News and Press Releases

Witness Tampering and Drug Trafficking Lands Houston Man in Federal Prison for 28 Years

May 2, 2013

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Julian Luna-Nieto, 44, has been handed a significant federal sentence for methamphetamine trafficking as well as conspiring to tamper with witnesses by using intimidation and threats, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Luna-Nieto, a legal permanent resident from Houston, pleaded guilty Sept., 21, 2012, admitting he used intimidation and threats with the intent to influence and prevent testimony in an official proceeding.

Today, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen, who accepted the guilty plea, handed Luna-Nieto a 28-year federal prison term for each of the two charges which will be served concurrently. In considering the sentence, Judge Hanen noted the threats he made and that he was the leader of the group involved in smuggling very pure methamphetamine.

On Feb. 16, 2012, Luna-Nieto was a passenger in a vehicle that attempted entry into the U.S. through the Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville, Texas. Approximately 12.62 kilograms (27.7 pounds) of crystalized methamphetamine was found hidden in the vehicle.  Luna-Nieto admitted he received the loaded vehicle in Mexico and arranged to transport the narcotics to Houston. 

While in custody and after being indicted on the narcotics charges, Luna-Nieto coordinated with other inmates to prepare a threat letter against a cooperating witness in an attempt to influence the witness’s testimony. That letter was intercepted by the U.S. Marshals Service. The investigation revealed another threat letter against another cooperating witness with the intent to influence that second witness’s testimony. 

The investigation was conducted by Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Marshals Service. Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Leonard is prosecuting the case.

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