Houston woman gets 14 years in meth smuggling case

McALLEN — A Houston woman was sentenced to more than 14 years in prison during a federal sentencing hearing Wednesday, records show.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane handed down a 175-month prison term for Elizabeth Garcia, who was accused of attempting to enter the U.S. with more than 30 kilograms of methamphetamine hidden inside a vehicle in which she was traveling.

Garcia attempted to cross driving a BMW July 22, 2019. Secondary inspection led U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to discover about 32.6 kilograms of meth concealed within the car, a release from the U.S Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas stated.

“Once at secondary, a CBPO obtained a secondary oral declaration from Garcia, at which time Garcia only declared a case of beer and a case of sodas,” the complaint against Garcia stated.

Once the vehicle was scanned in the “Z-Portal” area, the scan determined inconsistencies in the passenger side floorboard area.

“Upon further inspection, CBPO’s noticed what appeared to be packages in the frame of the vehicle, and a search of the vehicle revealed 36 packages totaling 31.68 kilograms of a substance that tested positive for crystal methamphetamine,” the document showed.

During an interview with authorities, Garcia took responsibility, but claimed she didn’t know what the substance was. She also admitted she was going to leave the BMW at a location in McAllen and that someone was going to pick it up.

In handing down the sentence, the court noted that Garcia was a “habitual” drug trafficker and cited her extensive criminal record, which included instances of trafficking drugs like cocaine and marijuana, as well as her involvement with human smuggling, the release states.

In addition to the nearly 15-year prison sentence, the court ordered Garcia to serve five years of supervised release upon completion of the aforementioned prison term.

Garcia, who originally faced four counts related to the trafficking scheme, pleaded guilty to a federal drug import charge Nov. 21, 2019; in exchange, the government agreed to dismiss two drug conspiracy charges and one drug distribution charge, records show.

The 46-year-old woman has been, and will remain, in federal custody pending her transfer to a bureau of prisons facility.