August 24, 2008

Man Sentenced for Importing Cocaine

Drugs found in girdle-like garment suspect was wearing

LAREDO - Gilberto Alejandro Maldonado-Reyes, 45, of Mexico City, Mexico, has been sentenced to 120 months imprisonment for possession with intent to distribute cocaine United States Attorney Don DeGabrielle announced. Maldonado-Reyes pleaded guilty to the charges in February 2008.

Maldonado-Reyes was arrested Dec. 23, 2007, at the Lincoln-Juarez International Port of Entry Bridge II in Laredo, Texas, as he was riding as a passenger on Turimex bus. During a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspection, Maldonado-Reyes was identified by the CBP officers as having been previously deported. CBP officers discovered four bundles of cocaine weighing 1.85 kilograms hidden in a girdle-like garment which Maldonado-Reyes was wearing beneath his pants. During the course of the secondary inspection, Maldonado-Reyes attempted to run from the CBP officers but was quickly apprehended and detained.

After his arrest, Maldonado-Reyes admitted knowledge of the presence of the cocaine and told Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents he had been approached by a certain individual in Mexico to transport the narcotics from Mexico to Austin, Texas. In return Maldonado-Reyes expected to receive help in fixing problems he was having with immigration papers associated with his prior deportation. Maldonado-Reyes also admitted to agents that he made two earlier trips transporting narcotics and that he was paid between $800-$1,000 per trip plus expenses and was given false immigration documents.

On this charge alone, he faced a minimum mandatory punishment of five years imprisonment. However, the prison term imposed reflects an enhancement based upon his prior felony drug conviction. Maldonado-Reyes was convicted on a second degree state felony charge on Nov. 27, 2000 for possession of a controlled substance - cocaine.

The investigated was led by ICE and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Roberto F. Ramirez.

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Should the Texas State Legislature pass immigration enforcement laws in 2009?