Reynosa man gets nearly 4 years in cocaine smuggling case

McALLEN — A Mexican man was sentenced in federal court Monday for his role in a scheme to transport several kilos of cocaine, records show.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Antonio Martinez-Vargas to a 46-month sentence during a hearing Monday related to Martinez’s role in a scheme to bring more than 22 kilos of cocaine into the country.

Martinez was arrested in July 2019 attempting to enter the United States through the Rio Grande City port of entry, and driving a vehicle displaying Mexican license plates.

He provided U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers a B1/B2 Visa; which led to a “positive hit” for possible narcotics involvement, the complaint against the man stated.

“The CBP officer continued with his inspection at which time he took a negative declaration from (Martinez) for being in possession of fruits, meats, weapons, monies more than $10,000, tobacco, or drugs,” the complaint read.

His vehicle then underwent a follow-up inspection, in which CBP officers discovered 20 bricks wrapped in black packaging tape of a white powdery substance that was weighed and determined to be 22.7 kilos of cocaine.

“(Martinez) admitted it was his first time transporting narcotics,” the document read. “(He) stated he knew there were drugs in the vehicle, however he did not know what type of drug, (he) stated he (was) going to be paid $3,000 for smuggling drugs.”

Martinez told federal agents he was directed to cross into the U.S., and then drive back to Mexico, and act is if he was going back to Reynosa. He said he did not know the name of the man who hired him, but was aware that what he was doing was illegal.

In October 2019, Martinez agreed to accept responsibility, and pleaded guilty to a controlled substance distribution charge. In exchange, government prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining three charges, including import of a controlled substance, and conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, records show.

Martinez, 36, of Reynosa, will not be obligated to serve supervised release after his prison term, as he does not have legal status to remain in the country, and will likely be deported upon completion of this prison term.

lzazueta@themonitor.com