News and Press Releases

Illinios Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Marijuana Charge

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2011

LAS CRUCES – On March 15, 2011 in Las Cruces federal court, Rockford, Illinois resident Mario Devonne Washington Sr., 32, pled guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana.  Washington has been in federal custody since August 24, 2010, and will remain detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales said that the charge arose out of conduct occurring on August 24, 2010, in Doña Ana County, New Mexico.  According to a criminal complaint filed in the case, at around 2:00 a.m., a United States Border Patrol agent saw two vehicles traveling together on Highway 26 near Hatch, New Mexico.  As the agent followed the vehicles, the lead car sped up and drove off.   The agent stopped the other car, driven by co-defendant Alicia Unger.  Inside the trunk of the car, agents discovered 42 pounds of marijuana.  At approximately the same time that agents discovered the marijuana, Unger, who still had her cellular telephone in her possession, sent the text:  “goin to jail.”  After agents found the marijuana, they located the other car that had sped away, parked at a motel in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  According to the complaint, agents arrested Washington and co-defendant Michael Martin at the motel and later found a smashed cellular telephone in their motel room.  This was the same phone that had received the “goin to jail” text from Unger. 

At sentencing, Washington could receive up to ten years of imprisonment.  Unger, who pled guilty on February 22, 2011,  remains in custody pending her sentencing hearing.  Martin, who pled guilty on Dec. 29, 2010, is pending sentencing and has been in custody since his arrest on August 24, 2010.  

The case was investigated by the United States Border Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Administration, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Renee Camacho and Sarah M. Davenport.

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