CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A federal jury on Friday convicted a woman, a U.S. citizen who resided in Reynosa, Mexico, on one count of possessing with intent to distribute more than 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of methamphetamine, announced U.S Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.
This conviction resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Jennifer Ellen Marie Rodriguez, 31, was convicted by a jury following a three day trial. During the trial, the government presented testimony that Rodriguez was pulled over June 23, 2012, by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper near Encino. During that traffic stop, Rodriguez claimed to be traveling to San Antonio to attend her grandfather's funeral. Rodriguez did not know the name or location of the funeral home and did not have appropriate attire expected for such an event.
Rodriguez provided consent to search her vehicle and was arrested after the methamphetamine was discovered hidden in a void behind the vehicle's dashboard. The government also provided evidence that Rodriguez's grandfather was a lifelong resident of Michigan and had passed away in 2011.
Rodriguez admitted at trial that she made up the story about the funeral. She testified she did not know the drugs were hidden in her vehicle, but was driving to San Antonio to exchange the vehicle for her kidnapped cousin. Rodriguez claimed that on the previous day, her cousin was kidnapped in Mexico and kidnappers demanded she deliver the vehicle to San Antonio in exchange for her cousin.
The government countered with evidence demonstrating that Rodriguez never told this story to law enforcement at the time of her arrest. In fact, the government proved that Rodriguez had only made the claim just a few days before trial began.
Rodriguez is scheduled to be sentenced April 24, at which time she faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to life imprisonment, as well as a possible $10 million fine. Rodriguez will remain in custody pending that hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Chad W. Cowan, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.