Two Sentenced In Marijuana Conspiracy
LAREDO, Texas - Arturo Hawkins, 51, and Alejandro Garcia-Ortega, 26, have been sentenced to federal prison following their convictions of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute in excess of 100 kilograms of marijuana, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Hawkins, of Laredo, and Alejandro Garcia-Ortega, of Mexico, pleaded guilty Dec. 27, 2012.
Today, U.S. District Judge Diana Saldaña, who accepted the guilty pleas, sentenced Hawkins to 120 months imprisonment to be followed by an eight-year term of supervised release. Garcia-Ortega received a sentence of 63 months imprisonment to be followed by a four-year term of supervised release.
On Sept. 28, 2012, Border Patrol agents patrolling ranchland near Mines Road in Laredo attempted to pull over a Ford utility truck that was driving in tandem with a black Ford F-150. As agents approached the utility truck on foot, the driver - later identified as Garcia-Ortega - drove into the brush on the side of the road. He then abandoned the moving truck and ran on foot.
Border Patrol agents recovered 41 bundles of marijuana weighing 364.2 kilograms that had been covered with coffee from an aftermarket compartment in the flatbed of the truck. The agents found a cellular telephone which held photographs of Garcia-Ortega and other evidence that led to his identification and subsequent arrest.
That same day, Border Patrol agents stopped the Ford F-150 that had been driving in tandem with the truck carrying the marijuana. The driver was identified as Hawkins. According to the plea agreement, telephone records showed Hawkins made a number of telephone calls at the time of the immigration stop on the white utility truck. Agents also discovered a number of maps in Hawkins’ possession of various ranches and trails through the ranches. Hawkins also admitted to acting as a scout for the truck loaded with marijuana.
Both men will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and Border Patrol. Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth R. Rabe prosecuted the case.