September 15, 2008

Man sentenced to eight years in prison for conspiracy to smuggle drugs

EL PASO, Texas -- A man convicted of a drug/bribery conspiracy charge was sentenced to 97 months in federal prison on Monday, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton said.

On June 13, 37-year-old Saulo Reyes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. By pleading guilty, Reyes admitted that he paid $4,250 on January 15, plus another $15,000 on January 16, to an undercover Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, who he believed was a port inspector, to allow a vehicle loaded with over 400 kilograms of marijuana through the Paso del Norte port of entry without inspection.

In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Philip R. Martinez ordered that Reyes pay a $50,000 fine and be placed under a 20-year supervised release after his prison term. Martinez also approved the forfeiture of $19,250 and a 2005 Volkswagen Touareg that were derived from Reyes' criminal actions.

Reyes' co-defendant, 27-year-old Karina Tarango of El Paso, is serving a 30-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms of more of marijuana. Authorities arrested Tarango at a stash house in Horizon City used in the smuggling scheme.

This case was investigated by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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