A fairly mundane trip to a Mexican meat market landed a Rio Grande City man in prison for more than three years, records show.
On Sept. 2, Andres Garza told federal agents that he was contracted to transport drugs after a trip to a meat market in Mexico led to an opportunity to make money, the complaint against him states. He agreed to plead guilty to one count of distribution of a controlled substance.
On Tuesday, a court sentenced the 44-year-old man to a 37-month prison term for his role in an attempt to transport more than 4 kilos of cocaine from Mexico into the United States.
As part of the plea agreement, the government agreed to dismiss the conspiracy charge at the time of the sentencing.
Garza told federal agents he traveled from Roma to Ciudad Miguel Aleman, Mexico, on March 23 to buy meat and sodas.
“Garza stated while he was at the meat market, he was approached by a male he only knows as ‘flaco,’ who offered (him) $2,000 to transport marijuana,” the complaint states. “Garza stated that he agreed to transport marijuana in (his) truck to an unknown location and returned it a short time later.
He told agents he was instructed to drive his truck to the “Border Town” store or the “Saenz Mini Mart” in Roma.
Later that day, March 23, Garza attempted to enter the country through the Roma port of entry, driving a pickup truck.
After his vehicle was sent for a secondary inspection, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered bundles inside the vehicle’s engine compartment.
“Subsequently, CBP Officers found four bundles wrapped in black tape inside the air filter housing of the vehicle (approximate weight 4.06 kilograms). CBP Officers conducted a presumptive field test of the bundles resulting in a positive result for cocaine,” the document states.
At the time of his plea agreement, Garza admitted he knew there were illegal drugs in his vehicle and expected to be paid money for transporting them — roughly $2,000, the record shows.
In addition to the more than three-year prison sentence, Garza, a U.S. citizen, will have to remain on supervised release for four years upon completing his prison term, records show.
Garza has been and will remain on bond pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility, currently set for a surrender date of Nov. 30, records show.