Federal Jury In Del Rio Convicts San Antonio-Area Woman In Crystal Methamphetamine Smuggling Operation
Maria Landin, age 46, of Helotes, TX, faces between 10 years and life in federal prison after a jury in Del Rio convicted her this afternoon for her role in a scheme to smuggle into the United States 878.2 grams of pure crystal methamphetamine, announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman.
Jurors convicted Landin of one count of conspiracy to import a controlled substance. Sentencing for Landin, who remains in federal custody, is scheduled for May 5, 2014.
Evidence and testimony presented during trial revealed that on November 11, 2012, Landin hired two individuals—Paul McKinney and Anthony Cole, both of Corpus Christi, TX--to go and pick up the crystal methamphetamine in Piedras Negras, Mexico, and return to her residence in Helotes, Texas, for distribution in the San Antonio area. On November 12, 2012, McKinney and Cole were apprehended at the Eagle Pass Port of Entry, Bridge #2, while in possession of the crystal methamphetamine.
Testimony further revealed that the co-conspirators met at Landin’s residence in Helotes, where McKinney and Cole were given a cellular phone, cash, and instructions on how to make contact in Mexico with the source of the methamphetamine. Landin also instructed the two couriers to conceal the drugs on their bodies using tape. After retrieving the methamphetamine, Cole and McKinney became lost in Mexico. Landin assisted Cole and McKinney by providing them with directions back to the Port of Entry. Inspection at the port revealed two bundles of methamphetamine taped to Cole’s legs. The methamphetamine had a street value of approximately $100,000.
Cole and McKinney, who remain in federal custody, have already pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and are awaiting sentencing in March 2014.
This investigation was conducted by Special Agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Patrick Burke and Katherine Nielsen.