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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANGELA DODGE

Feb. 19, 2010

PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER
(713) 567-9388

FLORIDA RESIDENT SENTENCED TO LENGTHY PRISON TERM FOR SMUGGLING METHAMPHETAMINE

(LAREDO, Texas) – A Mexican citizen and legal permanent resident has been sentenced to 210 months in federal prison for smuggling almost two kilograms of methamphetamine into the United States, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

At a hearing yesterday, United States District Judge Micaela Alvarez sentenced Virgilio Alvilez-Cruz, aka Virgilio Avilez-Cruz, 34, of Wauchula, Fla., to 210 months in prison without parole to be followed by a five-year-term of supervised release.  Alvilez-Cruz, a Mexican citizen and legal permanent resident, was arrested on July 30, 2009, after 1.97 kilogramsof methamphetamine was discovered in his suitcase by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers. CBP officers encountered Alvilez-Cruz when the commercial bus on which he was a passenger arrived at the Lincoln-Juarez Bridge in Laredo, Texas. During the routine inspection of incoming passengers and their luggage, a CBP agriculture quarantine inspection officer noticed an anomaly in Alvilez-Cruz’s suitcase. The actions of a drug-detection K-9 alerted officers to the possibility the suitcase contained contraband. CBP  officers dismantled the suitcase and discovered the methamphetamine hidden under a false bottom and laboratory testing confirmed the methamphetamine 97.4 % pure. The street-value of the methamphetamine is conservatively estimated at $158,000.

In interviews with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, who continued the investigation following the discovery of the contraband, Alvilez-Cruz admitted bringing drugs into the United States, but claimed he did not know what type of drug was involved. Alvilez-Cruz told agents he had been offered $6,000 by a stranger he met at a bar in Guerrero, Mexico, to smuggle drugs into the United States and that a second stranger gave him the suitcase. He was to take the suitcase to Atlanta, Ga.

Alvilez pleaded guilty to the drug trafficking offense in October 2009.  He has been in federal custody without bond since his arrest and will remain in custody to serve his sentence. 

Assistant United States Attorney Josh Ackerman prosecuted the case.

    

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