Heroin smuggler gets 3 years in prison

Docs: Defendant hid drugs in car battery

McALLEN — A judge sentenced a man Thursday on drug charges after he was found in possession of more than 5 kilos of heroin at an international port of entry, where he attempted to enter the country claiming he was going to visit family and shop.

Arick Joaquin Alanis-Barrientos, a Mexican national, will serve more than three years in prison after a federal judge handed down his sentence during a hearing in federal court Thursday, court records show.

Alanis-Barrientos stood before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane for his sentencing hearing related to his March 2018 arrest at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge as he attempted to cross into the country. Crane handed down a 46-month prison sentence, records show.

At about noon on March 23, 2018, Alanis-Barrientos, driving a vehicle with Mexican plates, applied for admission into the U.S., telling U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers he planned on visiting family and shop, according to the complaint against the man.

READ THE COMPLAINT

CBP officers referred Alanis-Barrientos for a secondary inspection where a CBP K-9 alerted officers to narcotics in the vehicle.

“An X-ray scan of the vehicle was conducted which resulted in the discovery of anomalies within the vehicle battery,” the document states.

After the officers removed the battery, it was “probed” with a drill and found it to contain a brown substance, later determined to be heroin.

“A total of nine cellophane wrapped bundles containing 5.34 kilograms of heroin was located concealed within the vehicle battery,” the complaint states.

Federal agents, including special agents with U.S. Homeland Securities Investigations, interviewed the 21-year-old man later that day.

During the interview, Alanis-Barrientos admitted to knowing about drugs within the vehicle and that he was paid about $2,000 in “U.S. currency” to transport the heroin into the United States.

Alanis-Barrientos, who originally faced four counts against him, including drug conspiracy and drug import charges, pleaded guilty in August 2018 to the import charge, court records show.

In exchange, government prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining charges against him at the time of this sentencing.

Alanis-Barrientos, who does not have legal status to be in the country and had been in custody since his arrest in March 2018, will likely be deported upon completion of his prison term.