Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Zapata man sentenced after attempting to smuggle 18 bundles of marijuana

 LAREDO, Texas – A 44-year-old U.S. citizen has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction of conspiring to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

Roberto Villarreal, Zapata, pleaded guilty Aug. 4.

Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo handed Villarreal a 120-month sentence to be immediately followed by eight years of supervised release.

At the hearing, the court heard that he has two prior federal marijuana-related convictions and was serving a supervised term of release for one of those sentences when he was arrested for the current crime. The court revoked the remainder of that term and ordered Villarreal serve an additional 30 months to be served concurrently for a total 120-month term of imprisonment.

Villarreal admitted that on March 15 he drove to a ranch near Falcon Lake intending to pick up 183 kilograms of marijuana. He initially grabbed the 18 bundles, but saw authorities and returned the drugs to the ranch and intended to get them later.

Law enforcement conducted a traffic stop, at which time Villarreal admitted his plan. He then led them to the ranch where he left the drugs. There, authorities discovered a boot print matching Villarreal’s shoes.

Villarreal has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation with the assistance of Border Patrol and the Zapata County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Harrison prosecuted the case.

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