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Press Release

Texas Men Get Significant Sentences for Distributing 99% Pure Meth

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

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Three Dallas men are now in prison for possession with intent to distribute nearly two kilograms of methamphetamine, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

Ricardo Coria, 40, pleaded guilty Jan. 4, 2019, admitting he knowingly conspired with Juan Angel Zambrano, 46, to possess the methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it. Cesareo Soto-Martinez, 59, pleaded guilty to his role May 10, 2019.

Today, U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez ordered Soto-Martinez to serve a total of 46 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release. Zambrano and Coria were previously sentenced to 130 and 210 months, respectively. The sentences were enhanced as the court found the methamphetamine was 99 percent pure, making the substance ice - a more potent form of the drug. In imposing the sentence for Soto-Martinez, the court noted his limited participation in the overall conspiracy. Coria received an upward adjustment in his sentencing due to his status as a recruiter.

On April 5, 2017, Zambrano attempted to enter the United States through the Veterans Port of Entry in Cameron County as a passenger in a commercial bus. During inspection at the pedestrian area, he presented his personal items to include a backpack and an ice chest.

A search of the chest revealed approximately 1.8 kilograms of methamphetamine – ultimately determined to be ice due to its extremely high purity level.

The investigation revealed that in late January 2017, Coria needed a courier to transport drugs to pay a debt to an individual in Mexico. Coria then met Zambrano and Soto-Martinez at a barbecue in Dallas, at which time he recruited Zambrano to transport narcotics for him.

Just prior to the April 2017 seizure of the nearly two kilograms of methamphetamine, Coria had difficulty contacting Zambrano to travel to Mexico to pick up the narcotics. Soto-Martinez contacted Zambrano and asked him to contact Coria. Soto-Martinez also provided his vehicle for the trip and traveled with Zambrano and Coria.

All have been and remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Immigration and a Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Angel Castro and Jody Young prosecuted the case.

Updated August 15, 2019

Drug Trafficking