A Rio Grande City woman who pleaded guilty for her role in a drug smuggling attempt has been sentenced, records show.
A court sentenced Alma Rosa Salinas to a more than five-year prison sentence for her attempt to smuggle more than 65 kilos of methamphetamine into the country August 2019, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas.
During the initial screening, Salinas, a U.S. citizen, told a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer that she lived in Diaz Ordaz, Mexico and was headed to work in Rio Grande City as a healthcare provider, the complaint against Salinas states.
“Salinas stated that she had borrowed the vehicle from her uncle because her vehicle had overheated,” the complaint states.
After CBP officers checked the vehicle in their system on Aug. 9, they determined it should be sent for a secondary inspection at the Los Ebanos port of entry.
During the search, CBP officers found anomalies in the gas tank.
“The vehicle gasoline tank was removed from the vehicle. The liquid was extracted from the tank placed in the plastic containers and weighed approximately 65.62 kilograms,” the document states.
During her interview with federal agents, Salinas said her vehicle overheated on the bridge prior to crossing into the country.
She said a woman, a stranger, helped her get to a nearby pharmacy. Then she walked over to her cousin’s residence to borrow a vehicle.
“Salinas stated the vehicle belonged to her uncle, but her cousin is the one that lent her the vehicle. During the interview, Salinas provided several inconsistent statements,” the court document states.
At the time of her plea agreement, Salinas admitted she knew there were narcotics in her vehicle and expected to be paid for transporting them.
As part of her pleading true to one count of import of a controlled substance, the government agreed to dismiss the remaining three charges; distribution of a controlled substance and two counts of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, records show.
“As a consequence of her drug trafficking activities, Salinas will spend the next five years in federal prison,” Shane Folden, of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), said in a prepared news release. “HSI will continue to ensure that individuals involved in illegal drug smuggling operations are held accountable.”
In addition to the 63-month federal prison sentence, the court will require Salinas to adhere to supervised release terms for three years upon completing her prison sentence.
Salinas, who has been free on a bond since August 2019, will remain free pending her self surrender scheduled for Jan. 4, 2021.