A 25-year-old Texas woman has been sentenced to spend 140 months in a federal prison to be followed by supervised release lasting five years for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. The Pharr resident learned of her fate on Dec. 2 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The sentence was handed down as part of a plea agreement the woman entered into in February 2018. The woman faced a possible life sentence if she had been convicted after a trial.
During the sentencing hearing, the judge heard that the woman managed or supervised a drug trafficking operation that distributed illegal narcotics smuggled into the United States from Mexico. A Galveston man and the two individuals he hired to transport methamphetamine across the border entered guilty pleas to federal narcotics charges and have already been sentenced.
The drugs the woman admitted to conspiring to distribute were discovered concealed in a car dashboard in August 2017 at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in the vicinity of Sarita. The woman told federal agents that she also smuggled marijuana across the border. The district judge who passed sentence determined that the woman was responsible for transporting about 6 kilograms of methamphetamine and approximately 42 kilograms of marijuana. The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Border Patrol.
Prosecutors may advocate for the harshest penalties possible when suspects decline plea offers and decide to take their chances with a jury. These sentences can be especially severe when federal crimes are involved. This is why experienced criminal defense attorneys may suggest offering U.S. attorneys with strong evidence a guilty plea in return for a substantially reduced sentence. However, attorneys may also argue vigorously in court on behalf of their clients when the evidence against them is unconvincing or they maintain their innocence.
Source: The United States Sentencing Commission, "Mandatory Minimum Penalties for Drug Offenses", October 2017