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June 6, 2012

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Louisiana Man Found Guilty of Smuggling Marijuana
Jury Returns Verdict in just 20 Minutes

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Dolph Finley, 47, of Lettsworth, La., has been found guilty on both counts as charged in relation to the smuggling of marijuana through the Sarita Border Patrol Checkpoint, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The federal jury returned their verdict just moments ago following a two-day trial and approximately 20 minutes of deliberation in Corpus Christi.

During trial, the United States presented evidence that Finley and co-defendant Thomas Lubecke drove a rental vehicle from Baton Rouge, La., to Brownsville, Texas, where they planned to buy marijuana and transport it back to Baton Rouge. Lubecke, 33, of Denham Springs, La., pleaded guilty and testified against Finley at trial.

The prosecution demonstrated that once in Brownsville, Finley and Lubecke purchased large black “All Star” duffel bags and other materials to transport the marijuana through the Sarita U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint. Finley boarded an Americanos bus with the “All Star” duffel bag full of marijuana, while Lubecke followed the bus in his rental vehicle. There, a canine alerted to a small bag of cocaine and some prescription medications in his rental vehicle and Lubecke was arrested. The bus, which entered the checkpoint at the same time as Lubecke, successfully passed through the checkpoint.  

Border Patrol agents testified that when they searched Lubecke’s car, they found three brand-new black duffel bags, black plastic, dryer sheets, high-temperature grease, Febreze, household cleaners and scrub pads, which are all items ordinarily used to package large amounts of marijuana. However, they found no large quantities of narcotics. One agent observed an identical “All Star” bag on the bus that had just come through the checkpoint. Other agents discovered he had been to the bus station in Brownsville and communicating with another person via text message. 

Agents were notified and subsequently able to stop the bus. Finley was found to be in possession of the bag which contained 16.8 kilograms of marijuana. Once Finley was apprehended, Lubecke confessed to the scheme and agreed to cooperate with authorities. 

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who presided over the trial, has set sentencing for Aug. 30, 2012, at which time he will face up to five years in prison for each of the two counts of conviction. Finley has been in custody since his arrest where he will remain pending sentencing.

The case was investigated by Customs and Border Protection and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey D. Preston.