ALBUQUERQUE – John Leroy Milne, 56, of Phoenix, Ariz., was sentenced on February 27, 2018, in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to 78 months of imprisonment for his conviction on marijuana trafficking charges. Milne will be on supervised release for four years after completing his prison sentence.
The DEA and U.S. Border Patrol arrested Milne on June 23, 2017, on a criminal complaint charging him with possessing 111.58 kilograms (245.99 pounds) of marijuana with intent to distribute. Milne and his co-defendant, Manuel Pavon-Rodriguez, 36, a Mexican national illegally in the United States, subsequently were indicted on July 19, 2017, and were charged with participating in a marijuana trafficking conspiracy and with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. According to the indictment, the defendants committed the crimes on June 23, 2017, in Hidalgo County, N.M.
Milne and Pavon- Rodriguez proceeded to trial on the charges in the indictment in Oct. 2017. The evidence at trial established that U.S. Border Patrol agents encountered Milne in Rodeo, N.M., on June 23, 2017, after Milne stopped his vehicle in front of the agents, got out of the vehicle, and initiated a conversation with the agents. The agents had been following Milne because Milne’s vehicle did not have a visible license plate. Milne gave the agents conflicting and confusing accounts about his travel plans until the agents asked him to show them the paper license plate for his vehicle. The agents testified that they observed five burlap backpacks and detected the strong scent of marijuana from the back of vehicle as Milne attempted to remove the paper license plate from the back window of his vehicle.
When the agents opened the back of the vehicle to inspect the backpacks, they observed Pavon-Rodriguez, who was wearing camouflage clothing, attempting to hide in the back of the vehicle with the backpacks. The five burlap backpacks contained 12 square bales of marijuana, weighing approximately 246 pounds that were wrapped in duct tape.
On Oct, 26, 2017, following a three-day trial, the jury returned a guilty verdict against Milne and acquitted Pavon-Rodriguez.
This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the DEA and the U.S. Border Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alfred J. Perez and Joni Autrey of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office prosecuted the case.