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Jan. 28, 2009


(LAREDO, Texas) – Esmeralda Griselda De Los Santos has been sentenced to a 292-month prison term for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute 10.6 kilograms of cocaine and 0.6 kilograms of methamphetamine, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. De Los Santos, 52, of Laredo, was found guilty following a jury trial on Aug. 9, 2008.

De Los Santos was arrested by the United States Border Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on May 26, 2008, after the Toyota she was driving was found to have trap doors. A K-9 alerted to the Toyota and a subsequent search found the trap doors and 10.6 kilograms of cocaine and .6 kilograms of methamphetamine inside. De Los Santos told agents she was comfortable speaking English and made several inconsistent and implausible statements. At trial, De Los Santos testified in Spanish via a translator that she did not know there was a hidden compartment or narcotics in the Toyota and that everything the agents said were lies. She claimed she could not speak English very well and that she did not understand the agents. However, at one point during cross-examination, she blurted out “I don’t know!” in English, then reverted back to speaking Spanish.

Subsequently, the defendant admitted she had lied during the trial and admitted she knew there was a hidden compartment and narcotics in the Toyota. At a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Micaela Alvarez this morning, De Los Santos was sentenced to 292 months in prison followed by a five-year-term of supervised release.

The case was investigated by the DEA and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brian Sardelli.


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