Second Mexican National Pleads Guilty to Participating in Conspiracy to Distribute 3000 Kilograms of Marijuana
ALBUQUERQUE – Jose Domingo Jasso-Topete, 34, a Mexican national illegally present in the United States, pleaded guilty this morning in Las Cruces federal court to conspiracy and possession of 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.
Jasso-Topete is 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 were 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, Jasso-Topete entered guilty pleas to Counts 1 and 2 of the indictment charging him with conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana with intent to distribute. In his plea agreement, Jasso-Topete acknowledged 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. Jasso-Topete 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, Jasso-Topete 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. Jasso-Topete has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
Co-defendant Francisco Flores-Enriquez, 26, also a Mexican national illegally present in the United States, entered a guilty plea on July 26, 2013, to Count 1 of the indictment, the conspiracy charge. He, too, faces a prison sentence of not less than ten years and not more than life imprisonment and will be deported after he completes his prison sentence.
The remaining six 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.