Sentence handed down in meth case

McALLEN — A Mission man was sentenced for his role in the sale of meth last April.

U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez handed down a 10-year prison-sentence for Anthony Joe Cortinas on Friday, court records show.

In addition, Cortinas will remain on supervised release for five years upon completion of the prison term.

The 32-year old man pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute a controlled substance related to the arrest in a local H-E-B parking lot.

His charges stem from a drug deal that was facilitated by at least one confidential informant.

Federal authorities came across Cortinas and Enrique Huerta Jr., 32, also of Mission, on April 15, 2017, when they met with a confidential human source, referred to as CHS in the complaint, in McAllen.

FBI agents gave the source $6,000 to use for a “controlled” purchase of methamphetamine, the complaint states, which further read, “FBI agents followed the CHS to a gas station near Expressway 83 and 23rd Street where the CHS picked up Israel Jaramillo.”

Jaramillo directed the source to go to H-E-B where they would then meet with two more people, identified as Jose Luis Gonzalez and Alyssa Garza and a minor, according to the complaint.

After several detours and some haggling over price, the group eventually ended up back at the grocery store where they previously met to complete the sale.

“Gonzalez retrieved a shoe box from the passenger compartment of the SUV and handed it to the CHS. Garza indicated that the methamphetamine was wrapped in her daughter’s blanket and told the CHS to bring the blanket back because her daughter was cold,” the complaint states.

FBI agents followed the source’s vehicle to a gas station where he dropped off Jaramillo.

The source returned to where FBI agents were located where he dropped off the meth given to him at the H-E-B, the complaint states.

“Inside the box was a white crystalline substance later tested positive for methamphetamine,” the court documents state.

In total, authorities said the meth weighed 971 grams.

Garza, Jaramillo and Gonzalez were all arrested in connection with the drug conspiracy.

Upon a search of Garza’s phone, federal agents found messages that showed communication between the woman and Huerta beginning April 14, 2017, the complaint states.

Within those messages were also voice-recorded messages between Huerta and Garza, and Cortinas and Garza, related to the sale of the meth.

A confidential witness, referred to as CW1 in the complaint, confirmed Huerta’s voice on the voice messages.

“While Garza and Huerta were sending messages back and forth about the price, a voice message was sent from Huerta’s phone from a voice that was not Huerta. The voice was identified by CW1 as that of Cortinas,” the complaint states. “Cortinas told Garza, ‘Hey sis, it was a misunderstanding. It’s my plug, but … my boy wants five. Right? But … the carnal asking for six… It was a misunderstanding on our behalf … six is what they want and that’s it.”

Huerta later sent Garza a message stating that the supplier had agreed to sell the meth for $4,800.

Last December, Jaramillo pleaded guilty to one count against him, a conspiracy charge, and was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison on Feb. 14, court records show.

Gonzalez also pleaded guilty in December 2017 to the conspiracy charge and was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison, with five years of supervised release upon the completion of his prison sentence, court records show.

Garza, who also pleaded guilty to one count against her in December 2017, is set for sentencing July 3, court records show.

Cortinas was previously implicated and charged in a separate state case.

In 2014, Cortinas, along with two other men linked to the Texas Chicano Brotherhood gang, was charged with murder in connection with the stabbing death of 26-year-old Ryan Sewell. Sewell’s body was found on July 21, 2014, inside a burning pick-up truck about 1:30 a.m. in the 3500 block of North McColl Road in McAllen.

Eventually, Cortinas’ charge was dropped and another man, Christopher Hernandez of Pharr, pleaded guilty to the murder moments before he was set for trial in state district court.

Huerta, who also pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge, was expected to be sentenced along with Cortinas, but now is scheduled for sentencing on July 23, court records show.