Jury Convicts 20-Year-Old Woman of Importing Methamphetamine
|Jan. 11, 2012|
McALLEN, Texas - Carolina Avila, 20, of Illinois, has been convicted of importing and possessing with intent to distribute more than seven kilograms of actual methamphetamine, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The jury returned its verdicts on four federal drug counts associated with the importation and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine today after one day of testimony and two and a half 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 that the conservative value of the methamphetamine in the Rio Grande Valley was approximately $225,000.
Avila faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in federal prison, without parole, and a fine of $10 million for each of the four methamphetamine convictions. Avila had been previously released on bond but was taken into custody following the return of the verdicts today pending her sentencing hearing to be held on March 20, 2012.
The investigation leading to charges in this case was conducted by CBP and ICE-HSI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Linda Requénez and Grady Leupold.