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Arizona man sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for marijuana trafficking

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – An Arizona man was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison following his guilty plea to marijuana trafficking, which resulted from an investigation by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Jesse Bruner, 46, of Douglas, Ariz., was sentenced April 30 to 120 months in federal prison, which is to be followed by three years of supervised release.

Bruner and a co-defendant, a 72-year-old woman from Kentucky, were arrested by agents with U.S. Customs Border Protection’s (CBP) Border Patrol April 7, 2011, in Hidalgo County, N.M. The agents found about 239 pounds of marijuana in a vehicle driven by the woman and in which Bruner was a passenger. Border Patrol turned the investigation over to HSI special agents in Deming, N.M.

Bruner was indicted July 20, 2011, and charged with possessing marijuana with intent to distribute. He pleaded guilty to the charges Oct. 6, 2011. He has been in federal custody since his arrest.

Court records reflect that on April 7, 2011, Border Patrol agents followed the vehicle, driven by the woman, as it traveled north on Hidalgo County Road 1 toward Animas, N.M. It then abruptly turned onto a local ranch road and stopped at the only house on the road.

Agents observed Bruner exit the vehicle and knock on the door to the house. The woman then drove to the back of the house and back to Hidalgo County Road 1. She slowed down and stopped when she saw the agents. When the agents approached the vehicle to speak with the woman, they observed large bundles on the back seat of her vehicle packaged in a manner consistent with packaging for marijuana smuggling.

After arresting the woman, the agents arrested Bruner who had remained in the vicinity of the house. A search of the vehicle revealed that it contained 10 bundles totalling 238.95 pounds of marijuana.

The charges against the woman were dismissed after authorities determined Bruner deceived her into participating in his drug trafficking activities, and that Bruner had threatened her life.

This case was investigated by HSI Deming, N.M., and the U.S. Border Patrol in Lordsburg, N.M. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacob A. Wishard and Luis A. Martinez, District of New Mexico.

HSI encourages the public to report any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.