News and Press Releases

McAllen Jury Returns Verdict in Marijuana Trafficking Case

Feb. 24, 2012

McALLEN, Texas – Just moments ago, a federal jury hearing the case against Hugo Elio Sarabia Jr., 34, from Palmview, Texas, returned a guilty verdict for possession with intent to distribute 458 kilograms of marijuana, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The verdict was returned after three days of trial and approximately three hours of deliberation.

Sarabia Jr. was indicted in 2004 along with his brother, Leonel Horacio Sarabia, 29, and father, Hugo Elio Sarabia Sr., 56, both of Palmview, Texas, and Honecimo Rodriguez, 49, of Mexico, as well as two others not yet in custody.

Rodriguez and Leonel Sarabia pleaded guilty in advance of trial to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more that 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and are pending sentencing.

In January 2009, Hugo Elio Sarabia Jr. and Sr. proceeded to trial. After five days of testimony and approximately two days of deliberations, Sarabia Sr. was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more that 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, while the jury could not reach a verdict as to the charge of possession with intent to distribute 458 kilograms of marijuana against both men. Sarabia Sr. subsequently pleaded guilty to that charge and is pending sentencing. 

During this trial, the jury heard testimony that on Oct. 26, 2001, Sarabia Jr., Sarabia Sr., Rodriquez and others were using an address on Western Avenue to transfer marijuana from pickup trucks into a recreational vehicle where the packages were concealed behind a mirror. Sarabia Jr. assisted in the loading of marijuana into a recreational vehicle. He then drove the recreational vehicle to a drop off location. Unbeknownst to him, testimony revealed that he had been under surveillance by officers with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). Two officers observed him arrive driving the recreational vehicle, get out of the vehicle and leave it in the parking lot. Subsequently, per the testimony in court, another driver got into the recreational vehicle and left. DPS officers stopped the vehicle, at which time the 458 kilograms of marijuana were recovered.  

Previously released on bond, Sarabia Jr. was taken into custody following the return of the verdict where he will remain pending his sentencing hearing, set for June 1, 2012. Hugo Elio Sarabia Sr. and Leonel Horacio Sarabia were previously released on bond until that bond was revoked in January 2009. They will remain in custody pending sentencing. Rodriguez has been and will remain in custody.

The case was investigated by DPS, FBI and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patricia Profit.

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