Mexican man pleads guilty in meth case

McALLEN — A Mexican national who admitted to a role in sneaking in meth into the country has pleaded guilty, records show.

Ramon Torres-Zurita stood before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane on Tuesday morning and agreed to plead guilty to one count of import of a controlled substance in connection with a case involving more than 42 kilograms of methamphetamine.

In accepting responsibility, Torres avoids a jury trial that likely would have led to Torres being punished to a lengthy prison term.

In exchange for his guilty plea, the government agreed to recommend the court to have the remaining three charges against Torres dismissed, including attempt/conspiracy to distribute charge, a conspiracy to distribute charge, and a controlled substance, sell, distribute charge, records show.

Torres’ legal issues began in August when he presented himself at a port of entry in Rio Grande City.

Driving an SUV, Torres was recognized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers as having been involved in a failed smuggling attempt of a “multi-kilogram” load of crystal methamphetamine where one of his associates was arrested, charged and convicted for the attempted smuggling attempt.

“Torres also had CBP data-base look outs as a suspected narcotics trafficker,” the complaint stated.

Because of this, Torres was referred for a secondary inspection.

A further inspection, and after a scan of his vehicle, CBP officers found 42 packages of crystal meth inside the tires of the SUV.

After he was arrested, and during his interview with federal agents, Torres admitted he was hired to transport what he believed was “drugs” in the four tires of his own vehicle to a location in Houston.

“Torres stated he agreed with an individual from Mexico to smuggle the load of drugs into the United States and has previously successfully smuggled several other loads,” the complaint stated.

Torres will remain in custody pending his sentencing hearing, scheduled for Jan. 14, 2020, records show.