March 24, 2010
BROWNSVILLE JURY FINDS HOUSTON WOMAN GUILTY OF TRAFFICKING MARIHUANA
(BROWNSVILLE, Texas) – A federal jury has returned its verdicts finding Sheri Ann Gonzalez, 37, of Houston, guilty of conspiring to posses and possessing with intent to distribute more than 88 pounds of marihuana, U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.
The verdict was returned today at 4:00 p.m. Trial began on March 23, 2010.
During trial, the United States presented evidence proving that on Dec. 13, 2009, Sheri Ann Gonzales entered the United States through the Gateway International Port of Entry in Cameron County, Texas driving a vehicle later found by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers to contain 40.2 kilograms (or 88.44 pounds) of marihuana hidden inside metal containers within the tires of the vehicle. At primary inspection, Gonzales told CPB officers she had borrowed the vehicle from a friend she had known for three weeks but quickly changed the story stating the vehicle actually belonged to a friend she knew for five years. CBP officers referred Gonzales to secondary inspection. While in secondary, Gonzales appeared nervous and then changed her story yet again claiming the vehicle belong to a cousin’s friend. She told officers she had borrowed the vehicle in Houston to travel to Matamoros, Mexico to attend “Virgen De Guadalupe Day”.
After the narcotics were discovered, Gonzales was again interviewed and again changed her story. This time she claimed according to officer’s testimony that she had borrowed the vehicle from a friend of a friend in Mexico. Further investigation conducted by agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement found that Gonzales had traveled to Brownsville, Texas, with her 10 year-old son by bus on Dec. 11, 2009.
During trial, the defense called one witness to confirm Gonzales story that she had traveled to Matamoros to attend the “Virgen De Guadalupe Day” mass. However, during cross examination by the United States, the witness admitted that the idea of going to the “Virgen De Guadalupe” mass had been her own idea and decided upon after Gonzalez had arrived in Brownsville.
Gonzalez will be sentenced by United States District Judge Hilda G. Tagle on June 21, 2010. She faces up to 10 years imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine on each of the two counts of conviction.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Angel Castro.
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