McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — A South Texas man has been sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for smuggling bricks of drugs across the border inside the tires of his pickup.
Abiel Geronimo Fernandez, 20, of Rio Grande City, was sentenced to 140 months in federal court in McAllen, Texas, after pleading guilty to smuggling methamphetamines from Mexico via the Rio Grande City Port of Entry, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.
According to court documents, Fernandez was driving a Chevrolet Silverado truck on Nov 28 from Mexico into Rio Grande City, Texas, when U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials referred him to secondary inspection. Hidden inside all four tires of his pickup were a total of 24 bricks of meth, ICE said in a news release.
The drugs totaled 59 kilograms and have an estimated street value of $236,000, ICE officials said.
Fernandez reportedly told officials that he was recruited the day before to smuggle three kilograms of meth into the United States in exchange for $3,000 in payment.
U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez issued the prison sentence on Friday in McAllen. During that time, Alvarez also noted that Fernandez had been arrested on Nov. 27 — the day before the drug-related arrest — on charges related to the smuggling of undocumented migrants, ICE officials said.
The arrest was a dual investigation by CBP and ICE’s Homeland Security Investigators. The lengthy sentence “sends a clear message to criminal organizations that there are serious consequences for trafficking narcotics,” Alejandro Amaro, acting special agent in charge of HSI in San Antonio said.