Mexican Citizen Pleads Guilty to Marijuana Smuggling and Immigration Charges
LAS CRUCES – Yesterday, Mexican citizen Luis Alberto Gutierrez-Cardenas, 40, pled guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana. Gutierrez-Cardenas has been in federal custody since December 15, 2009, and will remain detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales said that the indictment also charged Gutierrez-Cardenas with illegal re-entry of a removed alien and that Gutierrez pled guilty to this offense as well.
According to the criminal complaint, Gutierrez-Cardenas was apprehended on December 15, 2009, in Hidalgo County, New Mexico by United States Border Patrol agents two miles east of New Mexico Highway 80. After Gutierrez-Cardenas was arrested, Border Patrol agents followed footprints which led to the discovery in the desert of six burlap backpacks filled with 270 pounds of marijuana. After Gutierrez-Cardenas was arrested, he admitted that he had agreed to smuggle the marijuana, along with other individuals, from Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico to a location on I-10 near Forks Road in New Mexico. During his plea hearing, Gutierrez-Cardenas admitted that he previously had been deported from the United States on July 25, 2008, and did not have permission to return.
At sentencing, Gutierrez-Cardenas faces a sentence of up to five years of imprisonment on the conspiracy and up to twenty years of imprisonment on the immigration charge. The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the United States Border Patrol, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark A. Saltman and Luis Martinez.
# # #