Man who tried smuggling 60 kilos of meth pleads guilty

McALLEN — A Mexican man’s third attempt at smuggling drugs into the U.S. was not the charm.

Sergio Francisco Fernandez-Cruz pleaded guilty Thursday morning to count 2 of a four-count indictment filed against him in June of this year after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers found more than 60 kilos of meth inside the vehicle he used while attempting to cross into the U.S., court records show.

Fernandez-Cruz stood before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane to plead guilty to importation of a controlled substance related to his arrest on June 17 at the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge.

The 37-year-old Mexican national, who originally was referred because CBPOs noticed his hands were shaking, was arrested after an open air inspection with a canine alerted to something in the tires of the vehicle.

“A more intensive inspection conducted with a gamma ray machine was conducted where anomalies were discovered in the four tire areas of the vehicle,” the complaint states. “Further physical inspection revealed a total of 24 packages concealed within the vehicle.”

CBPOs determined the 24 packages, which later was determined to contain methamphetamine, weighed a total of 61.76 kilograms, court records show.

During an interview with federal agents, Fernandez-Cruz stated he was going shopping in the area to return some items bought at Home Depot, the complaint states.

The man admitted he was the vehicle’s owner, but that he did not know what drugs were inside the tires.

He said on this trip he was headed to Dallas, where he was going to leave the vehicle at a hotel, and was expecting to receive $500 for the trip, which he said was the third one he had made.

In exchange for his guilty plea on count 2, government prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining three counts at the time of his sentencing, which include two additional conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance charges, and distribution of a controlled substance charge, court notes show.

Fernandez-Cruz, who is represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Christina Lee Conway-Navarro, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 9, court notes show.