Pharr man to serve 46 months for cocaine smuggling

McALLEN — A man who attempted to smuggle 12 kilos of cocaine through a port of entry faced his punishment Thursday, court records show.

During a sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane handed down a 46-month prison sentence to Pharr resident Angel Martinez, 24, who had been arrested June 13, 2018, at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge as he attempted to enter the U.S. in a vehicle with Texas license plates, according to the records.

Records further show that Martinez made a negative declaration for any narcotics during his encounter with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, but an officer found that Martinez was wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant related to a 2017 conviction on state felony drug charges.

Martinez was indicted on felony possession of cocaine charges in October 2017, but failed to appear for a scheduled court hearing the next month and had his $25,000 bond revoked, records show.

In August 2016, Martinez also pleaded guilty to a class B misdemeanor marijuana possession charge, county records show.

Due to the warrant coming back on Martinez, the CBP officer referred Martinez for a secondary inspection.

“During the secondary inspection, (CBP officer) obtained a second negative declaration from Martinez for narcotics,” the complaint against him states. “The vehicle was sent for a non-intrusive inspection..”

During the inspection of the vehicle, the CBP officer noticed anomalies inside the rocker panels of the vehicle.

An additional search using a CBP K-9 alerted the officer to the “odor of narcotics,” and subsequently officers found 12 kilos of cocaine concealed in a non-factory compartment located in the vehicle’s rocker panels.

In October 2018, Martinez, who originally faced four federal drug charges, including two drug conspiracy charges and as many possession of controlled substance charges, pleaded true to one count of import of a controlled substance, records show.

Government prosecutors, in exchange, agreed to dismiss the remaining three charges.

In addition to his 46-month prison sentence, Martinez will be required to serve three years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term. The court also ordered the Pharr native to participate in a drug rehabilitation program