Jury Convicts Long Time Fugitive In Marijuana Case
McALLEN, Texas – Alexis Estevez-Alvarez, 45, of Havana, Cuba, has been found guilty of possession with intent to distribute marijuana and a subsequent charge of failure to appear, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The verdict was returned following less than two days of trial and approximately 30 minutes of deliberation.
Estevez-Alvarez was originally charged in 2003, permitted release on bond and set for trial Oct. 3, 2003, before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane. Estevez-Alvarez failed to appear for court and was subsequently indicted on that charge as well.
He remained a fugitive for almost 10 years until apprehended on Oct. 29, 2012. On that date, Alvarez-Estevez was discovered in the bed of a Ford F-150 restrained and inebriated at the Progreso Port-of-Entry after someone had crossed him into the United States and then fled back to Mexico.
The original case began on June 20, 2003, when two former deputies with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office approached a residence in Mercedes seeking consent to search the residence. According to evidence and testimony at trial, deputies then found 42 bundles of marijuana totaling 671 kilograms in a shed next to a pre-fabricated house on the property. Estevez-Alvarez stated he lived on the property with his wife along with another friend for approximately four months.
The government also proved that for the past 10 years Estevez-Alvarez has been able to work and live in both Weslaco and Nuevo Progreso, Tamaulipas, Mexico, as well as maintain a relationship with his now ex-wife.
The defense contended that unknown individuals had “control” of Estevez-Alvarez that prevented him from showing up to court in 2003 and that it was fear of retribution from these individuals that kept him from court over the past decade.
The jury disagreed and found him guilty on both counts as charged.
He faces a minimum of five and up to 40 years in federal prison as well as a possible $2 million fine for the drug charge and another five years and/or a $250,000 fine for failure to appear. He will remain in custody pending his sentencing hearing, set for Sept. 16, 2013, before Judge Crane.
The investigation was conducted by the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Juan F. Alanis is prosecuting the case.