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Feb. 2, 2012

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Mexican National Convicted for Possession of 100% Pure Methamphetamine

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Rigoberto Munoz-Vargas, 37, has pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and being an alien in possession of a firearm, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Munoz-Vargas admitted to United States District Court Judge Andrew S. Hanen today that he arranged for the shipment of 1.3 kilograms of 100% pure methamphetamine to be delivered to his girlfriend’s apartment in the Houston area. He intended to use scales found during a search of his girlfriend’s residence to weigh the methamphetamine, after which he intended to distribute it. Munoz-Vargas also admitted he had purchased a .40 caliber Fabrique Nationale handgun and stored it at the apartment where the methamphetamine was found. Munoz-Vargas is a Mexican national with no legal status to enter, work or reside in the United States.

Munoz-Vargas was arrested, along with his nephew, Edgar Munoz-Munoz, 24, also a Mexican national, following the return of a partially unsealed, 14-count indictment in December 2011 and a search of his home as well as his girlfriend’s apartment by Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI).

The 2 ½-year investigation leading to the charges revealed that Munoz-Vargas was the leader of a long-term narcotics conspiracy, in which large quantities of marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine were transported from Mexico, through the Rio Grande Valley, to Houston. Munoz-Vargas and his organization utilized ports of entry throughout the Southern District of Texas in attempts to smuggle narcotics. Between November 2001 and March 2009, Munoz-Vargas and his organization were linked to nine separate narcotics seizures with a total of more than 300 kilograms of marijuana and seven kilograms of cocaine.

The indictment remains partially sealed pending the arrest of the remaining co-conspirators. Munoz-Munoz is pending trial and is presumed innocent unless and until convicted by due process of law.

Munoz will remain in federal custody pending his sentencing before Judge Hanen on May 7, 2012, at which time he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and up to a life for the methamphetamine conviction as well as a maximum of 10 years for being an alien in possession of a firearm. He also faces up to $10 million in fines.

The indictment and conviction of Munoz was the result of an investigation by ICE-HSI with assistance from the Texas Department of Public Safety and Customs and Border Protection. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney V. LaTawn Warsaw.