Roma woman gets 2 years for pot smuggling attempt amid financial woes

McALLEN — A Roma woman who was found smuggling pot to supplement her income was sentenced to federal prison Tuesday, court records show.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Veronica Talamante to 24 months of federal prison related to her February arrest on smuggling charges, records show.

Talamante stood before Crane Tuesday morning for her sentencing hearing, which comes months after she pleaded guilty in July to the sale and distribution of marijuana.

In exchange for her guilty plea, government prosecutors agreed to dismiss the drug conspiracy charge she faced in addition to her smuggling charge, court notes show.

Government prosecutors allege the 44-year-old woman had more than 480 pounds of marijuana in her vehicle Feb. 8, when a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper pulled her over for a traffic violation.

During the traffic stop, the Texas Department of Public Safety trooper, as he approached the vehicle, could see in plain view, wrapped packages of what appeared to be marijuana, according to the complaint filed against Talamante.

The trooper seized the bundles, which was later weighed approximately 480 pounds of marijuana, totaling 218 kilograms.

In May, Talamante was officially indicted in what was originally a conspiracy case involving other unnamed persons into the illegal transport and movement of marijuana, court records show.

“ …Talamante did knowingly and intentionally conspire and agree with other persons known and unknown to the grand jurors, to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance,” the indictment reads. “The controlled substance involved was 100 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance.”

The woman, who operates a small convenience store in Alamo, admitted to authorities that she was facing some tough financial times, which led her to helping an unidentified person smuggle bundles of marijuana for a profit.

Talamante, who on June 1 had originally pleaded not guilty to the two charges against her, was on a $10,000 bond before appearing Tuesday for sentencing, court records show.

Crane agreed to allow Talamante to remain on bond and required her to self surrender on Nov. 1 to begin her prison term.

Talamante will also be required to serve three years of supervised release upon completion of her prison term.