Pharr man gets 6 years in liquid meth case

Docs: Defendant was headed to Houston with over 50 kilos

The federal courthouse at Bentsen Tower, located on Bicentennial Boulevard in McAllen, is seen in this August 2018 file photo. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

McALLEN — A federal judge sentenced a man involved in attempting to smuggle more than 50 kilos of liquid methamphetamine through a port of entry to six years in prison, court notes show.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Santos Eloy Rodriguez to a 72-month prison sentenced related to his arrest at a port of entry last August, according to court records.

READ THE COMPLAINT

U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrested Rodriguez on Aug. 8, 2018, at the Anzalduas International Bridge attempting to enter the U.S.

“At primary inspection, (a CBP officer) stated he observed Rodriguez exhibit ‘nervous behavior,’ according to (the CBP officer) training and experience. (CBP officer) stated Rodriguez specified to CBPOs that he was traveling into the U.S. to visit family for two days,” the complaint against him stated. “Rodriguez then stated that he was traveling to Pecos, Texas for work.”

During the primary inspection, Rodriguez stated the vehicle he was driving belonged to his aunt.

“CBPO stated he asked Rodriguez for his aunt’s name, to which Rodriguez did not respond and proceeded to view the vehicle registration,” the document read. “CBPO referred the vehicle for a CBP Land Border inspection.”

At the secondary inspection, Rodriguez explained he was traveling to Pecos, Texas for work; additionally, port officers discovered a non-factory attachment under the vehicle.

“A non-intrusive X-ray inspection (Z-Portal) of the vehicle was conducted and discovered anomalies located in the spare tire area of the vehicle,” the court document read.

Subsequently CBP officers discovered 52.72 kilograms of a “liquid substance” concealed within the spare tire. It wash later identified as methamphetamine.

After the discovery, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agents interviewed Rodriguez.

The 24-year-old man told HSI agents that six days earlier, he purchased the vehicle he was driving for the purposes of smuggling “illegal narcotics” to an unknown location in Houston.

Despite stating he did not know what type of narcotic he was smuggling to Houston, he did admit he was expected to be paid $2,000 in exchange for his role in the smuggling scheme.

Rodriguez, of Pharr, pleaded guilty to one count of import of a controlled substance in December of last year, court notes show.

In exchange for his guilty plea, government prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining charges, including two conspiracy charges, and a controlled substance charge, according to court records.

In addition to his 72-month prison sentence, Rodriguez will be required to serve three years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term.