Oct. 27, 2010
65-YEAR-OLD MEXICAN CITIZEN CONVICTED FOR TRANSPORTING APPROXIMATELY 110 POUNDS OF MARIJUANA
(LAREDO, Texas) – Blas Alvarado Frias, a 65-year-old Mexican citizen, has been found guilty for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute an excess of 50 kilograms of marijuana and importation of marijuana in excess of 50 kilograms, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. The jury returned its verdicts today one day after the conclusion of the one-day trial.
According to testimony, on Aug. 19, 2010, Frias approached the primary lane at the Lincoln/Juarez, Bridge #2 Port of Entry in Laredo, Texas, driving a 1995 Mercury Grand Marquis to which he claimed ownership of for approximately three years. At primary inspection, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer noticed an elevation in the trunk which, upon inspection, sounded unusually solid. Frias was then sent to secondary inspection, at which time a canine alerted to the presence of narcotics. An x-ray inspection revealed an anomaly in the trunk area of the vehicle which ultimately resulted in the discovery of 26 bundles of marijuana in a what appeared to be a newly constructed false compartment in the trunk of the car.
During trial, the defense unsuccessfully attempted to convince the jury that Frias had no knowledge of the narcotics. They further argued he had made multiple crossings in that car and was previously inspected in that car, during which narcotics were not discovered.
However, the government’s evidence showed the inconsistent statements made by the defendant which proved the contrary. At primary inspection, even though Frias stated he had owned the car for approximately three years, upon discovery of the narcotics, he then changed his story telling Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents he had owned the car for roughly two to three months but could not remember anything specifically about the purchase. Frias also claimed he allowed a neighbor to borrow his car to run errands the previous day. Then he later told ICE agents he was not the true owner of the car but rather that an unknown person put the car in his name. Frias further stated he was hired by Nacho Lun to cross the car and park it at the HEB located in downtown Laredo and that he would do this approximately two to three times a week for $100 payment every time. ICE had retrieved a vehicular circulation card, which is equivalent to a U.S. registration card, from the defendant’s wallet that identified him as the true owner. However, information on the card became questionable after further investigation revealed that the vehicle identification number, which was listed on the car, was non-existent. Furthermore, the Mexican license plates - which were physically attached to the car and referenced in the card - belonged to a VW Jetta, not the Mercury Grand Marquis.
United States District Court Judge Micaela Alvarez, who presided over the trial, remanded Frias to custody pending his sentencing hearing at which time he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.
Assistant United States Attorney Suntrease Williams is prosecuting the case.
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