June 26, 2008

Federal judge rules no bail for mother, 3 daughters

Federal judge rules no bail for mother, 3 daughters

BROWNSVILLE, Texas -- A federal judge on Tuesday turned down a family's request for bail in a more than $1 million cocaine smuggling case.

U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Felix Recio determined that the suspects had no residential ties in Brownsville and could be considered "flight-risks," The Brownsville Herald reported for its Wednesday editions.

Maria Venegas Vda. de Trevino, 59, and her daughters Laura Trevino, 31, Evelia Trevino, 27, and Adrianna Trevino, 23, should remain in federal custody to ensure their appearances at future hearings, the judge said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials arrested the women at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge June 18. The agents recovered approximately 16.5 kilograms of cocaine, authorities said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent Tomas Salazar testified in court Tuesday that the four women were detained by CBP agents after driving through the port of entry in a 2006 Mercedes Benz ML350. Agents also detained a girl, believed to be approximately 9 years old and Evelia's daughter, Salazar said.

Laura Trevino, the driver of the vehicle, was taken to a security cell while the other women attempted to run back to Mexico during the vehicle inspection, Salazar said. Video from security cameras show that the child was led away by one of the women, he said.

"Inspectors ran after them and apprehended them," Salazar said.

The three women wore "girdles" underneath their clothing with cocaine packages hidden inside, Salazar testified. The driver of the vehicle, Laura, also wore a girdle but didn't carry any narcotics, the special agent said.

Laura admitted to agents she had picked up the cocaine from a source in Mexico and distributed the packages among her family, Salazar said.

Laura also told agents she would be paid $2,000, which she was going to divide among her sisters and mother, for crossing the narcotics, Salazar said.

Border agents estimated the packages of cocaine to be worth approximately $1,164,000 in street value.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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