Judge Sends Two to Prison for Similar Drug Smuggling Schemes
LAREDO, Texas – A Laredo man and a Houston woman are headed to federal prison in separate, but similar cases involving drug smuggling via their vehicles, announced Ryan K. Patrick.
Celeste Esperanza Muñoz, 27, and Ismael Gonzalez, 34, pleaded guilty in December and September 2017, respectively.
Today, Visiting U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison ordered Muñoz to serve a 70-month term of imprisonment for her conviction of conspiracy to import methamphetamine. Gonzalez entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana and received a sentence today of 80 months in prison. Muñoz and Gonzalez were further ordered to serve five and four years of supervised release, respectively.
On Sept. 7, 2017, Muñoz arrived at the International Bridge II in Laredo for inspection. Soon after, law enforcement discovered 56 kilograms of methamphetamine in a false compartment inside the gas tank of the Ford Explorer she was driving.
In the second case, Gonzalez admitted he took part in a conspiracy to smuggle 171.2 kilograms of marijuana. On July 1, 2017, he attempted to smuggle the drugs in the rear compartment of the 2005 Hummer he was driving. Authorities uncovered the marijuana after he arrived at the IH-35 checkpoint for inspection.
Muñoz was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. Gonzalez has been and will remain in custody.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protection conducted the investigation involving Muñoz, while the Drug Enforcement Administration and Border Patrol worked the Gonzalez matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney José Angel Flores Jr. prosecuted both cases.