McALLEN — A group of drug smugglers from Fort Worth faced their respective punishments during a sentencing hearing Wednesday, records show.
U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez sentenced Aren Reyes, 23, Teresa Gonzales, 27, Francisca Baez, 53, Yesenia Garcia, 27, and Ofelia Hernandez-Vasquez, 26, to 240 months, 58 months, 75 months, 60 months, and 40 months in prison, respectively, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas.
The group was accused of smuggling meth into the country from Mexico for about six months in 2017, until their arrests at ports of entry after some of the members of the group were found in possession of the illicit narcotic.
Ultimately, federal agents seized seven meth loads from the group, weighing more than 150 kilograms, the release read.
Reyes — who was identified as the person who recruited the members of the group, including his mother — was handed the most lengthy sentence.
Reyes picked the drug mules and would frequently join them in the Rio Grande Valley to coordinate the smuggling of drugs into the U.S.
He would also travel to Houston and occasionally to Georgia, and would escort the mules to make sure they got the drugs successfully past ports of entry and checkpoints.
“In handing down the sentences, the court noted this was not the only load of drugs Gonzales, Garcia and Hernandez-Vasquez had smuggled and could have changed their minds at any time and not participated in the long drive from Fort Worth. The court also mentioned that even if Baez was unable to stop her son — Reyes — from narcotics trafficking, she could have avoided joining her son in his criminal activities,” the release stated.
On April 30, 2017, Hernandez-Vasquez and her brother, Manuel Martinez, 40, both of Saginaw, Texas, were arrested at the Anzalduas port of entry with roughly 30 kilos of meth in their car.
The drugs were stashed in a load of milk and juice containers to try to avoid suspicion. Martinez was sentenced previously to 120 months for his role in the crime.
Subsequently, Garcia and Gonzales were arrested at the Progreso port of entry. They attempted to smuggle 11 kilograms of meth into the country in their vehicle, hidden in bags of candy.
In addition to having his mother join his group, Reyes also used his boyfriend, Brandon Morrison, in the scheme.
On Aug. 6, 2017, Morrison and Baez pushed a cart loaded with drinks into the Brownsville port of entry from Mexico. Upon investigating, authorities soon discovered 15 kilograms of meth hidden within the coconut water bottles in Morrison’s cart. Morrison previously received a 122-month sentence.