Jury Convicts Laredo Drug Smuggler
|Oct. 27, 2011|
LAREDO, Texas – A federal jury in Laredo has convicted a Laredo man of all counts in connection with an attempt to smuggle approximately 99.6 kilograms of marijuana, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The verdicts were returned late yesterday following a three-day-trial and approximately five hours of deliberation against Martin Mata, 42, of Laredo.
At trial, the United States presented evidence that on the morning of Aug. 26, 2011, Border Patrol agents responded to an alert from a sensor on the banks of the Rio Grande River close to Mines Road. One of the agents hid in the brush on the inland side of the road. Soon thereafter, he saw a group of people waiting on the river side of the road and, eventually, a Dodge Ram driven by Mata arrived and met the group. The agent watched the group load four bales of marijuana behind the driver’s seat.
When other agents nearby immediately attempted to stop Mata, he ran and agents chased him for approximately eight to 10 miles. Mata then made a 90-degree turn across the four-lane divided highway onto the other shoulder, stopped, got out, jumped a fence and ran. He was wearing a bright pink shirt and the pursuing agents never lost sight of him. During this time, other agents immediately secured the truck and found the marijuana. After a foot pursuit of nearly a mile, Mata surrendered but refused to talk.
During trial, the defense attempted to persuade the jury that the agents had the wrong person, but after hearing the government’s evidence the jury disagreed and found Mata guilty of conspiracy as well as possession with intent to distribute marijuana, both counts with which he was charged.
Mata has been in custody since his arrest where he will remain pending his sentencing to be set a later date before Senior U.S. District Judge George P. Kazen, who presided over the trial. At that time, Mata faces a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison.
The case was investigated by Border Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Administration and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Ackerman.