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April 24, 2012

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20-Year-Old Lands 10+Year Sentence for Importing Methamphetamine

McALLEN, Texas - Carolina Avila, 20, of Illinois, has been handed a 121-month sentence for importing and possessing with intent to distribute more than seven kilograms of actual methamphetamine, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Avila was convicted by a McAllen, Texas, jury on Jan. 11, 2012, on four federal drug counts associated with the importation and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine after one day of testimony and 2 ½ hours of deliberation.

During trial, the United States presented evidence which proved that on March 19, 2011, Avila, accompanied by her 18-month-old daughter and a male passenger, entered the United States through the port of entry at Hidalgo, Texas. While at primary inspection, Avila, who was the driver, declared a case of beer which was located in the cargo area of the minivan. Upon inspection, a Custom and Border Protection (CBP) agent noticed floating particles within several of the bottles. Additionally, a narcotics detection dog alerted to the presence of narcotics in the box containing the bottles of beer. The vehicle and its occupants were referred to secondary inspection at which time agents searched the box and found 12 bottles of beer containing a total of 7.5 kilograms of actual methamphetamine.  

As proved through the evidence presented during trial, during Avila’s initial interview with special agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), she denied any knowledge of the drugs concealed within the beer bottles. During a subsequent interview, she admitted that her father had asked her to cross the case of beer into the United States and had explained to her, through the use of a slang term, that the bottles contained an illegal substance. At the time of the conversation with her father, Avila had prior knowledge of her father’s involvement in drug trafficking. An ICE-HSI agent testified at trial that the conservative value of the methamphetamine in the Rio Grande Valley was approximately $225,000.

In handing down the sentence today, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane, who presided over trial, considered the severity of the sentencing guidelines given that the case involved methamphetamine, her role in the offense and that she had minimal criminal history. The prison term will be followed by a five-year-term of supervised release.

Avila had been previously released on bond but was taken into custody following the return of the jury verdicts where she will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prison facility to be determined in the near future.
The investigation leading to charges in this case was conducted by ICE-HSI and CBP. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Linda Requénez and Grady Leupold.