Skip to main content
Press Release

Woman who Smuggled Meth across the Border Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California

Assistant U. S. Attorney Jaclyn Stahl (619) 546-8456    

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – December 17, 2019

SAN DIEGO – Laura Casas, who was convicted by a federal jury of smuggling $128,000 worth of methamphetamine through the Otay Mesa Port of Entry with her three children in the car, was sentenced in federal court Monday to 108 months in prison.

Casas was convicted of importation of methamphetamine following a two-day jury trial that concluded on September 6, 2019.

“Methamphetamine is ravaging our community and is a lethal drug,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “It is strong, pure, cheap, and – because of the actions of this defendant and others like her – plentiful. I commend trial attorney Jaclyn Stahl for her excellent work on this case.”

“Methamphetamine is a powerful drug that continues to devastate our communities,” said Cardell T. Morant, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Diego. “This sentencing should serve as a stark reminder that those who facilitate the movement of dangerous drugs for transnational criminal organizations will be held accountable for their actions.”

On November 15, 2018, at approximately 12:04 a.m., the defendant, a U.S. Citizen, presented a California driver’s license and applied for entry into the United States at the port of entry. A narcotic detection dog alerted to the vehicle. In the secondary inspection area, officers removed paneling from the dashboard and discovered fifty packages of methamphetamine in a secret compartment. The packages weighed approximately 69 pounds. The drugs were concealed in a sophisticated non-factory compartment that required significant modifications to the vehicle and would have taken hours to construct.

According to evidence presented at trial, messages from the defendant’s phone, when compared with her crossing history, paint a clear picture of her planning and preparation to commit this crime.

Prosecutors argued for a longer sentence because the defendant testified falsely at trial that she did not know there were drugs in the vehicle. She also testified that the damning text messages on her phone were about a scheme of smuggling pug puppies – not drugs - into the United States. Her testimony was directly contradicted by the evidence.

Further, the United States believes that the defendant intended to suborn false testimony from the defendant’s sister-in-law and mother-in-law at trial. Both women told the pug smuggling story to agents when they were interviewed in anticipation of trial. They were set to testify to the pug smuggling story but chose not to at the last moment.

Evidence collected in anticipation of their testimony shows that the in-laws crossed into the United States from Mexico three months after the defendant’s arrest with puppies that were too young to enter the country legally. This evidence suggests that the defendant and her family not only manufactured this defense after her arrest but went to significant lengths to do so.

DEFENDANTS                                            Case Number 18-CR-5355-AJB                             

Laura Casas                                                     Age: 28                                   San Diego, CA


Importation of Methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 952, 960

Maximum penalty: Life in prison and $10 million fine


Homeland Security Investigations

Customs and Border Protection

Updated December 17, 2019

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: CAS19-1217-Casas