Mexican National Plead Guilty to Federal Marijuana Trafficking Charge
ALBUQUERQUE – Francisco Flores-Enriquez, 26, a Mexican national illegally present in the United States, entered a guilty plea this afternoon in Las Cruces federal court to conspiracy to possess more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana with intent to distribute. The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales, Special Agent in Charge Dennis A. Ulrich, II, of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in El Paso, Texas Ulrich, and Chief Patrol Agent Scott A. Luck, El Paso Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol.
Flores-Enriquez was one of eight Mexican nationals arrested shortly after midnight on March 24, 2012, by U.S. Border Patrol agents after agents observed five vehicles breach the International Border Fence south of Animas, N.M. The agents conducted surveillance as the vehicles drove northbound in a convoy and moved in when four of the vehicles crashed into each other. The agents eventually apprehended eight individuals and took control of the four vehicles which contained approximately 3,154 kilograms of marijuana.
The eight defendants initially charged in four criminal complaints and subsequently indicted together and charged with conspiracy and possession of more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana with intent to distribute. Four of the defendants also were charged with re-entering the United States after prior deportation.
During today’s proceedings, Flores-Enriquez entered a guilty plea to Count 1 of the indictment charging him with conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute. In his plea agreement, Flores-Enriquez admitted that on March 24, 2013, he was in a vehicle that was part of a five-vehicle convoy that smuggled approximately 3,000 kilograms of marijuana from Mexico into the United States. Flores-Enriquez admitted that on the night of March 24, 2013, he and seven others crossed from Mexico into New Mexico and drove through the desert until they were apprehended by Border Patrol Agents. He further admitted that all five vehicles, which were covered with camouflage tarps and driven without headlights, were loaded with marijuana that they intended to deliver to other individuals in the United States.
At sentencing, Flores-Enriquez faces a prison sentence of not less than ten years and not more than life imprisonment. He will be deported after he completes his prison sentence. Flores-Enriquez has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
Flores-Enriquez’s seven co-defendants have entered not guilty pleas and are detained pending trial. The charges in the indictment against the co-defendants are merely accusations and the co-defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the Deming, N.M., office of HSI and the Lordsburg, N.M., office of the U.S. Border Patrol, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edwin Garreth Winstead, III, of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.