Mexican man who tried using tractor to smuggle cocaine pleads guilty

McALLEN — A Mexican national who attempted to use a tractor trailer to smuggle 75 kilos of cocaine into the country has pleaded guilty, court records show.

In exchange for his plea, government prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining three counts against him.

Cristian Bautista-Reyes was arrested on June 27 when he was stopped at the Progreso-Nuevo Progreso International Bridge attempting to enter the U.S. driving a 2005 tractor trailer, which was registered to a Matamoros man named Edelmiro Melendez Herebia, according to the complaint filed against Bautista-Reyes.

At the port, Bautista-Reyes presented U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers with a B1/B2 Visa card, along with paperwork describing the empty trailer that he was bringing into the U.S.

Before he presented the legal documents, CBP officers noted the man was driving the tractor in a “jolting” manner, leading officers to suspect that he was doing this intentionally to prevent the x-ray from properly scanning his vehicle, the complaint states.

“During the ‘jolting’ the tractor trailer collided with a concrete beam near the checkpoint. At that point, CBP officers had a mobile x-ray unit scan the tractor trailer,” the document shows. “An x-ray of the trailer revealed what appeared to be anomalies on the driver’s side of the cabin.”

CBP officers used a narcotics dog to conduct an inspection of the trailer, leading to an alert from the K-9 within the interior of the cabin walls, just behind the driver’s seat.

A vent was removed from the general area where “multiple rectangular bricks” were discovered.

In all, CBP officers found 60 packages from the interior walls of the tractor trailer’s cabin, with an approximate weight of 75 kilograms, the court record shows.

Special agents with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations subsequently interviewed Bautista-Reyes in connection with the discovery.

“Post Miranda, Bautista stated that he was contracted by ‘Beli,’ a coordinator for the ‘Mel-Her’ trucking company, to drop an empty trailer off just north of the Progreso (port of entry),” the document states.

But the complaint states Bautista-Reyes gave different, conflicting versions of how he was contracted to transport the empty trailer to the U.S.


“(A special agent) explained to Bautista that it would be in his best interest to be honest and cooperate. Several times during the interview, Bautista stated, ‘If I give you information, how can you help me,’” the document states.

Despite this, Bautista-Reyes was not able to provide agents with “basic” information about his employment, nor was he able to give agents the name of his supervisor, fellow employees, and stated he only knew nicknames for people employed at “Mel-Her,” the record shows.

Bautista-Reyes, who displayed signs of nervousness throughout the interview, never denied the fact that he was concealing information about the individuals that asked him to transport the empty trailer.

“He continuously rubbed his hands together and sighed as if he wanted to speak, but would then rub his face and hair and then hang his shoulders and look down. Bautista would continuosly ask how (the special agent) could help him if he provided information,” the court record states.

He is scheduled back in court for his sentencing hearing, scheduled for Feb. 20, records show.