McALLEN — An Edinburg woman was one of three defendants to be sentenced for their roles in a scheme to conceal the smuggling of cocaine within boxes of produce, court records show.
U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez sentenced Beatriz Adriano-San Martin to 14 years in federal prison for her role in a plot to move more than 100 kilos of cocaine.
Her co-defendants, Urbisio Munguia, 45, and Max Alberto Quiroz-Dia, 29, both of Mexico, were also sentenced Thursday along with Adriano-San Martin, and received 80 months, and 58 months respectively, the record shows.
The 40-year-old woman, who was convicted in July after a short jury trial which resulted in her conviction, will also be required to serve five years of supervised release upon completion of her 14-year sentence, the court notes show.
Munguia and Quiroz-Diaz avoided a trial of their own when they each pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge in March of this year.
The trio was arrested in connection with the scheme in December 2017 when Homeland Security Investigations agents received a tip about a large quantity of cocaine hidden within produce at a local restaurant, the complaint against the group states.
“While conducting surveillance at Buffalo Wings and Rings located at 1809 W. Trenton Road in Edinburg, Texas, HSI McAllen special agents observed a black H3 Hummer and a white Nissan Frontier meeting in the parking lot,” the document states.
During the surveillance, agents observed Munguia and Adriano-San Martin unload boxes of bell peppers from the white Nissan Frontier to the H3 Hummer.
Agents followed the pair and maintained surveillance of the H3 Hummer, which parked at a WalMart parking lot located at 2800 W. Nolana Ave. in McAllen.
Agents saw Munguia and Adriano-San Martin meet with a man driving a silver Chrysler Town and Country van —later identified as Quiroz-Diaz.
“Munguia, Adriano-San Martin, and Quiroz-Diaz unloaded the boxes of bell peppers from the H3 Hummer and placed them into the Silver Chrysler van,” the complaint states.
Agents followed as Quiroz-Diaz drove the van to a residence in the 3000 block of West Falcon Avenue in McAllen, where they approached him and informed him they were “conducting an investigation involving possible illegal activity,” and asked him for permission to search the residence.
Quiroz-Diaz, who told agents he lived at the property, gave consent and admitted there was a large amount of cocaine inside the residence.
Agents found 10 boxes of bell peppers, each containing five compressed bundles of cocaine. They also found an upstairs room which contained 40 compressed bundles of cocaine. In total, they found 90 packages of cocaine weighing approximately 100 kilos.
Based on the seizure at Quiroz-Diaz’s home, agents set up a controlled delivery of the narcotics at a Melrose clothing store located in the 1900 block of South 23rd Street in McAllen.
Agents placed produce boxes of bell peppers containing 15 bricks of cocaine in the van and watched as Munguia arrived. They saw Adriano-San Martin open the driver side of the van and enter the vehicle.
Shortly after, they approached and arrested her, and then Munguia.
During interviews with special agents, Quiroz-Diaz said he was instructed by Munguia to hide 50 kilos of cocaine within 10 boxes of bell peppers.
According to Quiroz-Diaz, Munguia told him that Adriano-San Martin was going to pick up the van at Melrose once the cocaine was mixed in with the bell peppers.
During her interview with agents, Adriano-San Martin admitted to loading the boxes with bell peppers from the white Nissan into the H3 Hummer and then unloading the boxes of bell peppers from the Hummer to the van — saying she was hired by Munguia to pick up the van once the boxes of bell peppers were returned to him.
Adriano-San Martin told agents she was going to be paid $150 to drive the van to a warehouse where the boxes would be unloaded, the complaint states.