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Press Release

Traffickers sentenced for smuggling meth in fire extinguishers for cartel

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

LAREDO, Texas – Two Texas men have been sent to federal prison following their convictions of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 34.5 kilograms of liquid meth associated with the Cartel Del Noreste (CDN), announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Bonifacio Turrubiates, 48, Laredo, pleaded guilty July 7, while Dionicio Sanchez, 46, Houston, admitted his guilt June 3.

Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo imposed a 188-month term of imprisonment for Turrubiates, while Sanchez received 168 months. They must also serve five years of supervised release following their sentences. At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence including how both men had a lengthy criminal history of drug trafficking. In handing down the prison terms, Judge Marmolejo noted that they were both “lucky” not to receive life sentences.

On April 28, 2020, authorities conducted a seizure on their vehicle in the parking lot of an HEB grocery store located in Laredo. There, they discovered kilograms of liquid meth hidden inside multiple fire extinguishers. The investigation revealed the meth belonged to an organization affiliated with the CDN.

At the time of their pleas, Turrubiates and Sanchez admitted to conspiring to hide the meth inside fire extinguishers and transporting them outside of Texas by driving the drugs north of Laredo.

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

The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Operation Noreste with the assistance of Webb County Sheriff’s Office. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, mutlti-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found on the Department of Justice’s OCDETF webpage.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Francisco J. Rodriguez prosecuted the case.

Updated October 19, 2022

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