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Press Release

Woman Sentenced to Prison for Importing Cocaine

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

McALLEN, Texas – A 52-year-old Mexican national who resided in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, has been ordered to federal prison following her conviction of importing and possessing with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. A federal jury convicted Emma Areli Martinez-Morgado on Aug. 11, 2015, on all four counts as charged following one day of testimony and less than two hours of deliberation.   

Today, Chief Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa ordered Martinez-Morgado to serve a total of 51 months in federal prison. In handing down the sentence, Judge Hinojosa considered the quantity of the narcotics involved and the defendant’s role in committing the offense. 

During trial, the jury heard that on Nov. 28, 2014, Martinez-Morgado entered the United States at the Pharr port of entry. She was driving a Chevrolet Blazer and was the only occupant in the vehicle when she approached the primary inspection area. There, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer noticed that the spare tire underneath the vehicle appeared to have been tampered with and referred Martinez-Morgado for secondary inspection. The jury heard that Martinez-Morgado’s demeanor changed after being sent for further inspection.   

At secondary, a subsequent search of the vehicle revealed 14 bricks of cocaine concealed within the spare tire, weighing a total of 15.12 kilograms. Testimony from an agent with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) established a conservative value of the cocaine in the Rio Grande Valley to be approximately $250,000.   

Martinez-Morgado originally denied any knowledge of the drugs and claimed she owned the vehicle and used it to cross into the United States to go shopping at K-Mart and flea markets. However, the government presented evidence showing that Martinez-Morgado’s crossing history in that vehicle was unusual in light of the stated purpose for travel.  

Martinez-Morgado will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The investigation leading to charges was conducted by CBP and HSI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexandro Benavides and Leo J. Leo prosecuted the case. 

Updated April 19, 2016

Drug Trafficking