McALLEN — A pair of siblings were each sentenced for their roles in an attempt to smuggle more than a kilo of heroin into the U.S., court records show.
Last week Ricardo Bautista-Yepez and his sister, Perla Bautista-Yepez, stood before U.S. Judge Randy Crane for their respective sentencing hearings in connection with federal drug smuggling charges related to their March 7 arrest at the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge.
Crane sentenced Ricardo Bautista-Yepez to 60 months in federal prison, and his sister Perla Bautista-Yepez to 46 months in prison.
The two pleaded guilty to one count of attempted conspiracy, controlled substance, in June of this year, court records show.
In exchange, government prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining three counts each faced, including possession of a controlled substance, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, and distribution of a controlled substance.
Ricardo Bautista-Yepez, 24, and Perla Bautista-Yepez, 22, both of Mexico, were arrested at the port after agents found a total of 1.4 kilos of heroin inside the shoes worn by the siblings, according to the criminal complaint filed against the pair.
The complaint states the pair approached the pedestrian lane just after 1 p.m. March 7. After a database query indicated the man could be involved in smuggling drugs, they were both sent to secondary inspection and searched for contraband.
During this search, officers found .710 kilograms of what was later determined to be heroin in Ricardo’s shoe, and .710 kilograms of the same substance in Perla’s shoe, the record shows.
Following the search, the pair told federal agents they met with an unidentified man in Mexico who handed them each a pair of shoes that contained drugs inside, the complaint states.
They said this happened just prior to attempting to cross into the U.S.
“Ricardo and Perla then put the shoes on and proceeded to walk into the United States,” the record stated.
The siblings admitted they knew they had heroin inside the shoes they were wearing before attempting to enter the U.S.
“Ricardo and Perla Bautista stated they were going to meet an individual at a nearby Whataburger parking lot, where they were going to get into the individual’s car, exchange the shoes for money, and immediately return afoot to Mexico,” the record showed.
Both said they were going to be paid around $700 to $800 each for their role in the transaction, and that this was their third attempt at smuggling drugs across the bridge.
Since both defendants are Mexican nationals, both will likely be deported upon completion of their respective prison sentences.