LAREDO, Texas – A 30-year-old Harlingen man has been ordered to prison for 20 years for his involvement in the attempted importation of methamphetamine, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick.
Alfredo Aguilar Jr. was found guilty at a bench trial Sept. 6, 2018, before U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle. Co-defendants Cristen Nicole Cano, 29, of Combes, and Cristal Hernandez, 23, of San Benito, had previously pleaded guilty their respective roles Aug. 7, 2018.
Today, Judge Tagle sentenced Aguilar to a total of 240 months in prison. At the hearing, Aguilar was held accountable for being the leader and organizer of the attempted drug importation event. The court also sentenced Cano and Hernandez today, each receiving 60 months. Aguilar will serve a 10-year-term of supervised release following his release from prison. Cano and Hernandez will serve two-year and five-year terms, respectively.
On May 15, 2018, Aguilar, Cano and Hernandez attempted to enter the United States at the Gateway to the Americas International Bridge Port of Entry in Laredo through the pedestrian lane. Cano and Hernandez were carrying bags of groceries, including four cans of jalapeños and hominy.
During primary inspection, authorities shook the cans, noting they were unusually heavy, and heard what sounded like powder rather than liquid. They were referred to secondary, at which time the cans were x-rayed and revealed anomalies. Authorities also noticed the cans had been altered.
Ultimately, the cans were found to contain a total of 10.52 kilograms of methamphetamine. Upon further investigation, it was determined Aguilar had recruited Cano and Hernandez to smuggle the drugs into the United States.
Aguilar and Cano have been in custody since their arrest May 15, 2018, where they will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. Hernandez was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of Customs and Border Protection. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher dos Santos prosecuted the case.