El Paso man pleads guilty to importing kilos of meth

McALLEN — An El Paso man faces life in prison after he pleaded guilty Friday to attempting to smuggle more than 60 kilos of methamphetamine into the country.

Adam Michael Diaz-Deleon pleaded guilty to import of a controlled substance, the second count of a four-count indictment against him related to his March arrest. That’s when he was found with meth while attempting to cross into the U.S. at a port of entry.

Diaz-Deleon, 38, was arrested March 1 attempting to enter the United States at the Rio Grande City port of entry while driving a Dodge Ram pickup truck, the complaint against him states.

But because U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers noticed Diaz-Deleon was acting nervously, he was referred for a secondary inspection.

During this secondary referral, a narcotics detection dog alerted to the presence of possible contraband within the vehicle, which turned up 24 packages hidden within the tires “mounted” on the vehicle, the complaint states.

Inside the more than 20 packages, authorities found a white powdery substance later determined to be meth, with a total weight of 63.9 kilograms, the court record states.

During his interview with Homeland Security Investigations agents, Diaz-Deleon said he had traveled into Mexico the day before and met with an unidentified man.

In that meeting, Diaz-Deleon claims the other man, who was not identified in the complaint, agreed to compensate him a total of $5,000 in exchange for moving the meth into the country, and then to drop off the pickup at a location in Mission.

He told federal agents it was going to be $1,000 to cross into the U.S. and another $4,000 when he delivered the pickup truck to the location in Mission.

Diaz-Deleon also claimed this was not his first time transporting illicit drugs into the country, and “admitted to helping smuggle large quantities of methamphetamine on two other occasions,” the complaint states.

Based on his guilty plea Friday, Diaz-Deleon faces a minimum 10 years in federal prison, and maximum of up to life in prison, according to court records.

Diaz-Deleon, who will remain in custody, is scheduled back in front of U.S. District Judge Randy Crane in October for his sentencing hearing.

lzazueta@themonitor.com