Federal Jury Returns Verdict in 100+ Kilo Marijuana Trial
|Jan. 12, 2012|
BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A federal jury has found Israel Guerrero Sr. of Pharr, Texas, guilty of conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute and possession of 122 kilograms of marijuana, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The jury returned its verdicts on both counts as charged this afternoon after a three-day trial.
Guerrero, 48, was stopped on April 14, 2007, at the Los Indios Port of Entry in Cameron County, Texas, after inspectors discovered an active warrant for his arrest for a prior drug offense. After a secondary inspection, a drug sniffing dog alerted and a subsequent search found 122 kilograms of marijuana in the van. The marijuana was hidden in a sophisticated manner within the vehicle that included tap bars built into the sides of the vehicles to help avoid detection. Guerrero claimed he had been paid $50 to take the van from Valle Hermosa, Mexico, and leave it at a hotel near the airport in McAllen, Texas.
Guerrero failed to appear for his trial on Sept. 4, 2007, and was a fugitive from justice until he was apprehended on Sept. 13, 2011, by the United States Marshals Service.
Guerrero faces a mandatory minimum of five and up to 40 years in prison at his sentencing hearing on April 16, 2012. He also faces a possible $2 million fine. United States District Judge Andrew S. Hanen, who presided over the trial, ordered him to remain in custody pending his sentencing hearing.
The government previously prosecuted two other passengers of the van. Israel Guerrero Jr., 28, of Pharr, Texas, was found guilty by a federal jury of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and possession of 122 kilograms of marijuana on July 11, 2007, and was sentenced to 100 months in federal prison, while Ana Gabriella Garcia Herrera, 23, also of Pharr, Texas, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute the 122 kilograms of marijuana and was sentenced to 40 months federal prison.
The case was investigated by agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Oscar Ponce and Karen Betancourt.