Port Isabel woman faces drug charges

Records: Defendant arrested at border with $195K in cash

A Port Isabel woman who recently faced money laundering charges was found with meth and heroin as she attempted to enter the country on New Year’s Eve, records show.

Ruth del Carmen Esteves made her initial appearance before a magistrate Monday on charges she attempted to conceal nearly 62 kilograms of methamphetamine and more than 3 kilograms of heroin inside the vehicle she was driving back from Mexico, the criminal complaint against the woman states.

On Dec. 31, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Hidalgo Port of Entry referred the 44-year-old woman for a secondary inspection as she attempted to enter the country.

During the secondary inspection, officers used an X-ray machine to scan Esteves’ vehicle and found “anomalies” in all four tires. Additionally, the complaint states CBP officers used a canine and the canine alerted them to the presence of narcotics.

“A physical search of the vehicle revealed a total of 25 packages concealed within the tires,” the document states.

In all, CBP officers found 61.92 kilograms of meth and 3.52 kilograms of heroin inside the tires.

Esteves declined to speak to agents after her arrest at the port and subsequently made her initial appearance before a magistrate in connection with the charges against her on Jan. 4.

As part of a records check, agents learned Esteves was arrested at the same port of entry a little more than two months before — on Oct. 20, 2020, when she was arrested attempting to enter into Mexico with nearly $200,000 in cash.

Esteves remains in custody pending a detention hearing, records show.