Bus Passenger's Attempt to Smuggle
JAN 22 -- (LAREDO, Texas) - A 20-year-old man has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison without parole for attempting to smuggle more than 12 pounds of methamphetamine into the United States, Special Agent in Charge Zoran B. Yankovich and United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. Edit Hilario Paz, who was born in the United States but raised in Mexico, was sentenced on Jan. 19, 2010, by U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez.
On Dec. 22, 2008, at approximately 9 a.m., Paz entered the United States as a passenger on board a commercial bus line at the Lincoln Juarez Bridge II in Laredo. An x-ray exam of his suitcase revealed anomalies within the bottom of the suitcase. A service canine also alerted to the presence of narcotics within the suitcase. Customs and Border Protection officers probed the luggage and found a white crystal substance secreted within an after-market compartment. The false floor of the suitcase contained two bundles of methamphetamine weighing a total of 5.7 kilograms with a 99.7% purity level.
Following the discovery of the contraband, Paz told investigating agents he did not know about the narcotics in the suitcase stating he had checked the luggage for anything illegal because he thought it odd to be paid $500 to take figurines and assorted Mexican candies to a “friend’s family” in Atlanta, Ga. Later, Paz admitted he was to be paid $2000 to deliver the suitcase which he believed contained drugs to Atlanta. Paz pleaded guilty to possessing with intent to distribute the methamphetamine.
Paz, who had no prior convictions, has been in federal custody without bond and will remain in custody to serve his sentence.
This case was investigated by special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney James Ustynoski.