McALLEN — An opportunity for $600 in exchange for smuggling cocaine into the U.S. resulted in a nearly five-year prison sentence for one Mexican national man.
Diego Palacios-Villalon, who was facing up to 71 months in prison, was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison Monday during a sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez, court notes show.
The 19-year-old Mexican national faced his punishment Monday more than eight months after he was arrested, allegedly attempting to smuggle more than 10 kilos of cocaine through a port of entry in late November.
According to the criminal complaint filed against the man, on Nov. 25, 2017, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Hidalgo port of entry referred Palacios-Villalon’s vehicle for a secondary inspection after a K-9 made a “positive” alert.
An X-ray scan of the vehicle was initiated, which led to the discovery of 10 packages hidden within the vehicle.
“X-ray results revealed anomalies in the back seats of vehicle,” the complaint shows.
The 10 packages, later revealed to contain cocaine, were hidden in the rear seats of the vehicle.
“The 10 packages weighed approximately 10.38 kilograms and field-tested positive for the properties of cocaine,” the document states.
During his post-arrest interview with Homeland Security Investigations agents, the Mexican national said he had entered into an agreement with an unknown man, who agreed to pay him to transport illicit drugs into the U.S.
In this specific trip, Palacios-Villalon said he was going to be paid $600 to move the 10 kilos of cocaine.
“When asked if he knew there were illegal narcotics in the vehicle, Palacios-Villalon told agents he suspected there were narcotics in the vehicle because of the amount of money he was to receive upon arriving back to Mexico,” the complaint states.
As part of his plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Palacios-Villalon, who was facing two conspiracy charges, and two import of a controlled substance charges, agreed to plead guilty to the import of a con-trolled substance — count 2 of the indictment — in March of this year, court records show.
The government agreed to dismiss the remaining three counts against him, court records show.