Roma man gets two years in marijuana smuggling case

McALLEN — A Roma man was sentenced to two years in federal prison after attempting to smuggle marijuana bundles into the country last November.

Isaac Villarreal stood before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane on Monday morning to hear the sentence after he pleaded guilty in February to distribution of marijuana, court records show.

Crane sentenced Villarreal to 24 months in prison, with three years of supervised release upon the completion of his prison term.

Villarreal, who has been in custody since his November 2017 arrest, had originally pleaded not guilty to the charges against him during a pre-trial hearing the following month.

The 20-year-old man was arrested after Texas National Guard troops working near Escobares spotted several people crossing the Rio Grande by raft with what appeared to be bundles, the complaint states.

U.S. Border Patrol agents conducted surveillance nearby and observed a black GMC pickup truck parked near a residence.

“Border Patrol agents walked towards the black GMC pickup truck and observed one subject throw a bundle of suspected narcotics into the bed of the GMC pickup truck,” the complaint states.

Agents declared themselves, which resulted in the driver of the pickup truck, later identified as Villarreal, fleeing the area.

“As Border Patrol agents approached the driver-side door and illuminated the vehicle with his flashlight, identifying himself as a Border Patrol agent he observed a male occupant later identified as Isaac Villarreal, sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle,” the court record shows.

At the same time, troops reported the nine subjects who came across on the raft earlier in the day were going back across the river.

“Border Patrol (agent) observed mentioned vehicle traveling north in an alleyway but was unable to maintain visual,” the complaint states. “A few moments later, Border Patrol agents observed the mentioned vehicle close to U.S. Highway 83 west of Lopez Street near Escobares Flea Market.”

Villarreal was apprehended near the Escobares Flea Market, the complaint states.

In total, authorities seized multiple bundles with a combined weight of more than 200 pounds, court records show.

During questioning, Villarreal declined to speak without the presence of an attorney.

Villarreal was represented by attorney Jesus Maria Alvarez of Rio Grande City.

lzazueta@themonitor.com