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January 24, 2011

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(LAREDO, Texas) – A federal jury has convicted a Mexican national from Anahuac, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Abdiel Omar Martinez-Rangel, 25, was found guilty of possession with intent to distribute marijuana by a jury’s verdict late Friday, Jan. 21, 2011. The jury found Martinez-Rangel not guilty of the conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana charge. United States District Judge Micaela Alvarez, who accepted the jury’s verdicts, has set sentencing for April 14, 2011. Martinez-Rangel faces a maximum of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $1 million. In custody since his arrest in October 2010, Martinez-Rangel will remain in custody pending sentencing.

The jury heard testimony from U.S. Border Patrol (BP) agents, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agents and a DEA South Central Laboratory chemist on Jan. 20 and 21, 2011, about the events that lead to the arrest of Martinez-Rangel on the south bound lane of Mines Road about a mile south of FM 255 in Laredo, Texas, on Oct. 8, 2010, for possession with intent to distribute marijuana. 

BP agents saw four persons loading bundles into the cab of a white pickup truck. The agents approached in their vehicle parking behind the pickup truck and upon exiting their vehicle identified themselves as BP agents. The unidentified driver of the white pickup truck drove off with the passenger doors still open down the road through a ranch fence and into the brush line. The driver abandoned the pickup and got away. Meanwhile, three of the four bundle carriers, after loading their bundles, ran into the brush. After the truck drove away, Martinez-Rangel, the fourth carrier, was left exposed outside of the brush, still in possession of the bundle and cut off from the escape route taken by the other three. Martinez-Rangel dropped the bundle, turned and fled but was apprehended. The bundle he had been carrying, containing marijuana, was seized.

In response to questions regarding how many other persons had been involved in loading the vehicle, Martinez-Rangel told agents there had been three others. BP agents located the truck and three other bundles of marijuana. All four bundles were wrapped the same way, with a camouflage green painted burlap outer covering stitched onto the cellophane covering and equipped with improvised seatbelts fashioned as back straps. The chemist confirmed that substance in the four bundles was marijuana and had a net weight of 220 pounds or 99.59 kilograms.

At trial, Martinez-Rangel testified in an attempt to convince the jury that he was not involved in the contraband venture, had never carried a bundle of marijuana and had merely illegally entered the country to look for work in Laredo and followed the other men because they were to provide him with transportation.

Assistant United States Attorney Roberto F. Ramirez is prosecuting the case.

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