August 19, 2009
BROWNSVILLE RESIDENT FOUND GUILTY OF CONSPIRACY AND POSSESSION OF COCAINE
(BROWNSVILLE, Texas) – Brenda Martinez, 19, a U.S. citizen residing in Brownsville, has been found guilty following a two-day federal jury trial of conspiracy to possess and possession with intent to distribute more than 19 kilograms of cocaine, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. The verdict convicting Martinez of both counts of the indictment was returned on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2009, after just over an hour of deliberation.
Through testimony of agents, the jury heard that on Dec. 17, 2008, Martinez drove her 2005 Equinox from Brownsville to the Sarita Checkpoint with two young female friends as passengers where they answered routine immigration questions;, however a K9 alerted to the presence of a controlled substance. At secondary inspection, the K9 directed agents to the rear of the vehicle. Upon inspection of the vehicle, agents discovered 19.63 kilograms of cocaine hidden in the rear bumper, with a reported value of approximately $1.9 million. Martinez’s passengers were observed becoming hysterical upon the discovery of the cocaine and demanded of Martinez to explain how she could involve them while Martinez remained calm, collected and unresponsive. The two young female passengers told agents they had agreed to travel to Dallas with Martinez to pick up lost luggage at the bus station and had no knowledge of any contraband in the car. Martinez initially also claimed to have no knowledge of the cocaine. Later, she told agents she actually was going to Dallas to pick up money for her “boyfriend” and had done so on one previous occasion. However, she was unable to provide the first and last name of her “boyfriend.” While continuing to deny she knew about the cocaine, Martinez nonetheless told agents her female friends did not know the real purpose of the trip to Dallas, that is, that she had been paid $500 to pick up money in Dallas which she was to transport to Mexico.
Agents testified that through further investigation, they learned that on Oct. 15, 2008, Martinez delivered $7,000 in cash to a McAllen area car lot to pay the balance owed on the 2005 Equinox selected by male earlier that day. The car was registered in her name. Additionally, border crossing records reflect that Martinez crossed in the vehicle into Mexico and back through the port of entry in Brownsville on at least six occasions with the last entry occurring on Dec. 15, 2008.
Immediately after the verdicts were announced, the court revoked Martinez’s bond and she was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshals Service pending sentencing on Nov. 23, 2009, at 8:30 a.m. Martinez faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years up to life imprisonment and a $4 million fine.
This case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joe Esquivel and Ana Cano.
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