U.S. Woman Residing In Mexico Gets Nearly 16 Years For Trafficking Meth
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Jennifer Ellen Marie Rodriguez, 31, a U.S. citizen residing in Reynosa, Mexico, has been ordered to prison for 188 months for trafficking more than 10 kilograms of methamphetamine, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. A federal jury in Corpus Christi convicted Rodriguez on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, following a three-day trial and less than an hour of deliberation.
Today, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who presided over the trial, handed Rodriguez the nearly 16-year sentence and further ordered she serve five years of supervised release following completion of that prison term. At the hearing today, the defense attempted to argue for a lower sentence based upon the defendant’s trial testimony that she acted under some form of duress. Judge Ramos considered the defense’s argument as well as all of the evidence presented at trial and subsequently her the 188-month sentence.
During trial, the government presented testimony that Rodriguez was pulled over by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper on June 23, 2012, near Encino. During that traffic stop, Rodriguez claimed to be traveling to San Antonio to attend her grandfather’s funeral. Rodriguez did not know the name or location of the funeral home and did not have appropriate attire expected for such an event.
Rodriguez provided consent to search her vehicle and was arrested after the methamphetamine was discovered hidden in a void behind the vehicle’s dashboard. The government also provided evidence that Rodriguez’s grandfather was a lifelong resident of Michigan and had passed away in 2011.
Rodriguez admitted at trial that she made up the story about the funeral. She testified she did not know the drugs were hidden in her vehicle, but was driving to San Antonio to exchange the vehicle for her kidnapped cousin. Rodriguez claimed that on the previous day, her cousin was kidnapped in Mexico and kidnappers demanded she deliver the vehicle to San Antonio in exchange for her cousin.
The government countered with evidence Rodriguez never told this story to law enforcement at the time of her arrest. In fact, the government demonstrated that she had only made the claim just a few days before trial began.
Rodriguez will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Chad W. Cowan.