Corpus Christi man gets 20 years in cocaine case

McALLEN — U.S. District Judge Randy Crane handed down a 20-year prison sentence for a “career criminal,” involved in a plot to traffick nearly 50 kilos of cocaine two years ago.

Ramiro Cordova Jr., who stood before Crane Tuesday for his sentencing hearing, was found guilty by a jury after a three-day trial on two drug trafficking charges in October 2016. Charges were related to his September 2015 arrest in Edinburg, where authorities found 47 kilos of cocaine inside a tractor trailer he was driving.

Crane, who noted Cordova’s extensive criminal history, which included convictions for engaging in criminal activity to commit aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, and possession with intent to distribute more than 700 kilos of marijuana, also ordered Cordova to serve an additional five years of supervised release upon completion of the prison term.

The 41-year-old man from Corpus Christi was arrested Sept. 1, 2015, when special agents with the Texas Department of Public Safety received information regarding a potential load of narcotics hidden within a tractor trailer and began surveillance on the trailer at a residence near 3 Mile Line and Inspiration roads near Pharr.

“At approximately 7 p.m. the truck tractor trailer departed the residence’s driveway and proceeded to travel east on 3 Mile Road to Texas 107,” the complaint states.

About an hour later, a DPS trooper pulled over the trailer near Edinburg, where he used his K-9 around the trailer, and was alerted to the presence of narcotics, the court record shows.

Cordova — who also had a passenger with him later identified as David Mata, 50 — gave the trooper consent to search the vehicle.

Shortly after, authorities were able to locate inside a hidden compartment “40 small rectangular bundles, wrapped in gray duct tape, each containing a white powdery substance,” the complaint states.

Cordova, who refused to provide a written statement to authorities, openly admitted he thought he was moving 100 pounds of marijuana, and that he was going to be paid $1,000 per kilo, the complaint states.

“Cordova also verbally admitted that he had the compartment in the trailer built about two weeks ago for the purpose of transporting narcotics,” the complaint states.

Mata admitted in a written statement to authorities that he and Cordova were going to make “quick cash,” and that he knew what he was getting into. Also, Mata had pleaded guilty to one count of the sale and distribution of a controlled substance in February 2016 and was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison in April 2016, and re-sentenced to 18 months with three years of supervised release in December 2016.

“At trial, the defense argued that Cordova was transporting the drugs due to threats he received against members of his family for previously serving as an informant. Cordova took the stand and admitted to being previously convicted of transporting more than 700 kilograms of marijuana in 1999 and served 115 months in federal custody,” according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “He further testified that after being released from custody, he was coerced into delivering at least an additional six loads of a controlled substance to various cities across the United States, including Chicago.”

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Roberto Lopez Jr. and Robert L. Guerra Jr. prosecuted the case.