Texas Border Business
LAREDO, Texas – A 22-year-old resident of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to import approximately nine kilograms of cocaine, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Leonardo Baltazar Martinez-Garza entered to enter the United States through the Lincoln-Juarez Port of Entry in Laredo Oct. 28, 2019, driving a 2009 black Chevrolet Optra. At initial inspection, he presented a border crossing card as a Mexican national and denied having any contraband.
Authorities referred him to secondary inspection where another officer with a trained service K-9 alerted to the possible presence of narcotics. A subsequent X-ray inspection revealed numerous anomalies within the dashboard behind a firewall. Law enforcement searched the vehicle and eventually discovered eight bundles weighing approximately 9.20 kilograms of a substance that tested positive for cocaine.
Martinez-Garza admitted he had been hired to illegally import narcotics into the United States from Mexico. He expected to be paid $1,000 after he successfully dropped off his vehicle at the Mall Del Norte in Laredo with the narcotics.
U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo accepted the guilty plea and set sentencing for April 22, 2020. At that time, he faces up to life in federal prison.
Martinez-Garza has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protection conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Francisco J. Rodriguez prosecuted the case.