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Press Release

Third Brownsville Meth Smuggler Ordered to Prison

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

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A 38-year-old Brownsville man has been sentenced for possession with intent to distribute 15.12 kilograms of methamphetamine, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. Vicente Manuel Murillo, of Brownsville, pleaded guilty July 6, 2018.

Today, U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera sentenced Murillo to a 60-month term of imprisonment to be immediately followed by two years of supervised release. In handing down the sentence, the court admonished Murillo, telling him that should he ever be foolish enough to commit another offense in the future, his sentence would be a lot higher.

At the time of his plea, Murillo admitted he knowingly possessed the methamphetamine with intent to distribute it to another person within the United States.

The case originated Jan. 20, 2017, when co-conspirator Maria Guadalupe Villanueva, 56, of Brownsville, attempted to enter the United States through the B&M Bridge Port of Entry in Brownsville driving a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. She was the sole occupant and registered owner of the vehicle. During inspection, authorities discovered  15.12 kilograms (33.26 pounds) of methamphetamine hidden within Rockaleta lollipop candy bags in the vehicle.

Upon arrival, Villanueva claimed her cousin - Bibiana Paz, 48, of Brownsville - had given her the candy in Matamoros, Mexico, to bring into the United States for a birthday party. However, the primary inspector had immediately noticed it was not a lollipop, but felt liked crushed rocks and sent her to secondary inspection. There, she again gave the same statement.

Villanueva was going to take the bags to Paz’s apartment. Villanueva indicated Paz placed the candy into the vehicle and had stayed in Matamoros in order to continue shopping. Law enforcement, however, discovered Paz had actually crossed into the United States through the same port approximately three minutes after Villanueva’s attempted entry. Villanueva also indicated, that because of Paz’s history, she suspected there were narcotics hidden in the candy bags and asked Paz why she did not want to cross the candy herself. She also indicated she asked Paz “You wouldn’t do that to me?” She indicated Paz shook the bags and told her there were no narcotics in the bags.

On Feb. 8, 2017, law enforcement arrested Paz, at which time she admitted she had asked Villanueva to bring the candy into the United States after Murillo had given her the merchandise in Matamoros. She indicated the candy was going to be delivered to Murillo in Brownsville.

She said that on Jan. 20, 2017, she followed Villanueva into the United States and noticed Villanueva had been detained. She admitted she delivered a separate batch of candy to Murillo at a local parking lot after she informed him that Villanueva was detained at the bridge.

Murillo was later arrested and stated he was supposed to receive the narcotics Villanueva was bringing into the United States. He claimed the narcotics supplier in Mexico told him to take custody of the narcotics from Paz and admitted he was going to deliver them to another person within the United States.

Judge Olvera previously sentenced Villanueva and Paz for their roles in the offense to 31 and 60 months, respectively.

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

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protection conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Angel Castro prosecuted the case.

Updated May 2, 2019

Drug Trafficking