El Paso Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison in Marijuana Smuggling Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 11, 2012|
In El Paso, 38-year-old Jesus Chavez of El Paso was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison yesterday for his role in a scheme to take advantage of unsuspecting drivers to smuggle an estimated 3,000 kilograms of marijuana from Juarez, Mexico into El Paso, announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman and FBI Special Agent in Charge Mark Morgan.
In addition to the prison term, United States District Judge Philip R. Martinez ordered that Chavez pay $141,629 restitution to his victims and be placed under supervised release for a period of 10 years after completing his prison term.
On May 23, 2012, Chavez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to import more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. By pleading guilty, Chavez admitted that from March 2010 through June 2011, he implemented a scheme to use unsuspecting individuals and their vehicles, who had access to the dedicated commuter lane at the Stanton Bridge Port of Entry, to import marijuana into the United States. As part of the scheme, members of this trafficking organization identified vehicles in Ciudad Juarez with access to the dedicated commuter lane, obtained copies of keys to those vehicles and then placed duffel bags loaded with marijuana inside the trunks of the vehicles. After the unsuspecting individual drove the vehicle into the United States and parked, members of this organization would retrieve the marijuana using the vehicle keys in their possession.
Chavez’ co-defendant, 30-year-old Carlos Gomez, whom authorities believe is in Mexico, remains a fugitive in this case.
“The sentencing of Jesus Chavez represents the FBI’s commitment to working alongside our law enforcement partners here in El Paso to aggressively investigate drug related crimes. We will continue our pursuit of offenders such as Chavez in an effort to bring justice for the victims, as well as providing peace of mind to our community,” stated FBI El Paso Division Special Agent in Charge Mark Morgan.