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Oct. 7, 2011

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California Man Sentenced to 292 Months for Bringing in Meth from Mexico

LAREDO, Texas – Fidel Martinez, 41, has been sentenced to 292 months in prison for possessing with intent to deliver 16.4 pounds of methamphetamine, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Visiting Judge Joseph M. Hood sentenced Martinez, a U.S. citizen born in Chicago, Ill., but residing in Baldwin Park, Calif., today in federal court in Laredo.

On Nov. 5, 2010, Martinez drove a 2011 Ford F-150 pickup truck into the United States Port of Entry, Bridge No. 1 (the Gateway to the Americas International Bridge) from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. At that time, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer noticed Martinez becoming very nervous when asked if he had anything illegal with him or if he had any items to declare.  The truck’s engine came close to stalling repeatedly and Martinez revved the engine to keep it running. A narcotics detention dog alerted to the engine compartment. Visual inspection of the engine revealed new bolts to the engine manifold area and an x-ray of the engine confirmed anomalies, or possible hidden items, within the engine. Upon further examination of the engine, CBP officers discovered packages of methamphetamine wrapped in aluminum foil weighing 7.44 kilograms concealed within a natural void within the engine’s intake manifold. Initially, Martinez denied any knowledge of the drugs, but later voluntarily recanted his denial and admitted he was attempting to smuggle the drugs in the truck into the United States, for which he was to be paid $9,000.

He pleaded guilty on Jan. 11, 2011. Martinez has been in custody since his arrest where he will remain pending transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. The 292-month term of imprisonment will be followed by a five-year-term of supervised release.

The investigation leading to the charges in this case was conducted by CBP and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Homero Ramirez prosecuted the case.