Dallas-area man gets 5 years in meth smuggling case

A Dallas-area man will serve more than five years in prison for his role in an attempt to get more than 20 kilos of liquid methamphetamine into the United States, court records show.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Jonathan Riley Lunsford to serve 63 months in a federal bureau of prisons facility nearly two years after his arrest at a port of entry.

Lunsford, 23, of Mesquite, Texas, was facing up to 10 years after he was arrested in October 2017 at the Progreso-Nuevo Progreso International Bridge with nearly 22 kilograms of methamphetamine in his possession.

Lunsford was facing four federal drug charges, including two conspiracy charges, one import of a controlled substance charge, and one distribution of a controlled substance, court notes show.

In an effort to avoid a jury trial, Lunsford pleaded guilty in December 2017 to importing a controlled substance, and in exchange, government prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining three counts against him at the time of this sentencing.

According to the complaint filed against Lunsford, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the port of entry Oct. 14, 2017, referred him for a secondary inspection after he was asked about what he had done in Mexico, and where he was headed. He also said he wasn’t carrying any contraband in his vehicle.

Lunsford told CBP officers that he had traveled alone from Dallas to Mexico to celebrate his 22nd birthday, but a secondary inspection led CBP officers to containers hidden within his vehicle.

A CBP certified-canine team found numerous labeled plastic containers within the trunk of Lunsford’s vehicle, but the labels did not match with what appeared to be inside the containers, and upon testing the liquid, officers determined it was liquid methamphetamine.

In all, officers seized 21.98 kilograms of liquid meth from Lunsford’s vehicle.

During his interview with federal agents, Lunsford, who did not name any co-conspirators, admitted he was promised cash in exchange for smuggling the meth, but did not say how much he was supposed to be paid before he ended his interview with agents, the complaint stated.

“Lunsford admitted he was aware it was unlawful to smuggle the liquid narcotics from Mexico into the United States,” the complaint stated.

Lunsford, who has been in federal custody since his arrest in October 2017, was represented by Rio Grande City-based attorney Gilberto Falcon.

The court also imposed three years of supervised release upon completion of the prison term, the record show.