Leader of Methamphetamine Smuggling Group Handed 25-Year Sentence
|Sept. 16, 2013|
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Jose Garza Jr., 33, of Palestine, has been ordered to serve a significant federal prison sentence for his involvement in a methamphetamine conspiracy, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Garza entered a plea of guilty June 17, 2013, to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute as well as possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.
Today, Senior United States District Judge John Rainey sentenced him to a total of 300 months in prison to be followed by a five-year-term of supervised release.
In November 2012, Border Patrol agents at the Sarita checkpoint stopped a vehicle driven by Zantana Brauher, 21, of Frankston, at which time a routine K-9 exam resulted in an alert prompting agents to refer the vehicle to secondary for further inspection. A short time later, another vehicle entered the primary inspection area of the checkpoint. Brian Gallandt, 26, of Palestine, was driving and had as passengers Crystal Rodgers, 29, and LaKendra Jackson, 24, both also of Palestine, and Christian Durden, 18, of Houston. A K-9 alerted to the vehicle and they were also referred to secondary inspection.
Agents were able to determine all knew each other and the two vehicles were traveling together. During a detailed inspection, agents discovered two bundles of methamphetamine concealed on Durden’s body, three on the body of Rodgers and three concealed on Jackson’s body. One bundle of methamphetamine as well as a loaded handgun were found concealed on Gallandt. The nine bundles of methamphetamine had a total weight of approximately 4.04 kilograms and a purity of 100%.
A third vehicle traveling with the group was subsequently discovered at a gas station in Riviera. Inside the vehicle were Jose Garza and Claudia Garza, 35, of San Benito. Investigation determined that Garza was the leader of the smuggling group. He had recruited and hired the co-conspirators to travel from Palestine to the Rio Grande Valley to transport the narcotics back for further distribution. Claudia Garza was discovered as the person that had strapped the bundles of methamphetamine to the others.
All co-conspirators also pleaded guilty. Gallandt and Rodgers were each sentenced to 126 months in prison, while Durden, Jackson and Brauher are each serving a 96-month sentence.
Claudia Garza is set for sentence on Oct. 15, 2013.
In federal custody since his arrest, Jose Garza will remain in custody and serve his sentence at a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future.
The conviction and sentence stems from an investigation by Drug Enforcement Administration and Border Patrol. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Watt.