McALLEN — A Reynosa man who said he was moving marijuana as part of a debt he owed was sentenced Monday.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa sentenced Adan Eduardo Berrones Moncivais to 18 months in federal prison Monday in connection with his arrest in a city of Hidalgo parking lot.

Berrones, a legal U.S. citizen who lives in Reynosa, was arrested when a Hidalgo police officer noticed an uncovered storm drain in the parking lot, which is in an area known for human and drug smuggling because of its proximity to the Rio Grande, the complaint states.

The officer noticed a box truck parked near the uncovered storm drain and a strong odor of marijuana emitting from the vehicle.

“(The officer) walked over toward the storm drain cover and looked under the truck,” the court document states. “(The officer) noticed that the box truck had an opening in the bottom of the truck that was uncovered, and was able to see bundles of marijuana inside the box truck through the opening.”

Moments later, after calling for backup, the officer opened the unlocked door of the box truck to discover Berrones.

In all, officers seized nearly 900 pounds of marijuana inside more than 240 packages, the complaint states.

“(Berrones) advised agents that he was asked by an unidentified (person) to get into the box truck and load the box truck with the marijuana,” the complaint states. “(Berrones) advised agents he was informed by the unknown person that the truck had a hole in the bottom … and (that) the marijuana would be given to him from somewhere in the ground.”

Berrones agreed to help load the narcotics, despite not knowing how much he was going to be paid for his role in the transaction.

Berrones’ attorney said a part of his client’s issues are tied to his use of drugs.

The court also ordered Berrones to participate in a drug rehabilitation program as part of his sentence.

The 23-year-old, who apologized to the court and his grandmother who was present for his sentencing, will also serve two years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term.