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Press Release

Helotes Woman Sentenced to Federal Prison for Conspiracy to Import Crystal Methamphetamine

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

In Del Rio yesterday, Maria Landin, age 48, of Helotes, TX, was sentenced to 194 months in federal prison for her role in a scheme to smuggle into the United States 878.2 grams of pure crystal methamphetamine, announced Acting United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge James Spero.

On November 20, 2013, jurors convicted Landin of one count of conspiracy to import a controlled substance.   Evidence and testimony presented during trial revealed that on November 11, 2012, Landin hired two individuals—Paul Edward McKinney and Anthony Wayne Cole, both of Corpus Christi, TX--to pick up the crystal methamphetamine in Piedras Negras, Mexico, and deliver it 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 previously pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge.  On December 17, 2103, McKinney was sentenced to 151 months in federal prison to be followed by a five year supervised term of release.  Cole, who remains in federal custody, awaits sentencing on November 16, 2015.

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.


Updated May 29, 2015

Drug Trafficking