Elsa woman pleads guilty in federal pot case

McALLEN — An Elsa woman accused of attempting to move nearly 300 pounds of marijuana pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge Monday morning.

Yolanda Reyes Reyna stood before U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa to change her plea from not guilty to guilty, nearly three months after her arrest in Progreso.

Reyes, who pleaded guilty Monday to selling and distribution of marijuana — count 2 in her indictment — was arrested earlier this year.

U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested the 28-year-old woman on March 6, after they found her in possession of about 291 pounds of marijuana near the Progreso-Nuevo Progreso International Bridge, according to the criminal complaint filed against her.

The woman’s arrest took place just before noon south of Progreso after a Border Patrol agent noticed her driving her vehicle in a parking lot typically utilized by tractor trailers.

An agent watching from afar witnessed as Reyes drove her blue Chevrolet Malibu into the lot and began driving.

“One subject ran toward the Malibu and signaled for it to park close to a manhole,” the complaint states.

Moments later, multiple people came out of the same manhole and loaded the vehicle’s backseat and trunk with several packaged bundles.

Reyes began driving away from the parking lot but was cut off by multiple Border Patrol agents and detained.

“(The Border Patrol agent) could see the bundles of suspected narcotics through the windshield upon approaching the vehicle,” the complaint states.

In total, agents seized 13 bundles of marijuana, the complaint states.

During her interview with federal officers, Reyes said that earlier that day she was visiting her mother in Edinburg when she received a call from a man who asked her to go to Mexico to pick up medication, the court record states.

“She received a call from Jesus Reyna who asked her if she would go to Mexico (Progreso) and pick up some medication for his father who is a diabetic, Reyes agreed,” the complaint reads.

She told agents that upon approaching the Progreso-Nuevo Progreso International Bridge, the man called her again and told her to stop by the tractor trailers.

“Reyes stated she observed a brown pickup (truck) following her. Jesus Reyna told her to stop and she then observed several male subjects emerge from a manhole and began loading narcotics into her vehicle,” the complaint states. “Reyes stated she then drove away and then shortly thereafter was stopped by Border Patrol agents and arrested.”

In exchange for her pleading guilty to the selling and distribution of marijuana, government prosecutors agreed to reduce her criminal level by two levels and dismissed the remaining count against her, court records show.

Reyes is due back in court on Aug. 16 for sentencing, where may face between five years and 40 years in prison.