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Contraband
04/16/2012

Jury convicts a southeast Texas man of smuggling 1,400 pounds of marijuana

LAREDO, Texas — A jury convicted a southeast Texas man Monday for possessing with intent to distribute 637 kilograms (1,401 pounds) of marijuana, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Border Patrol.

Carlos Gonzalez, 44, of Angleton, Texas, was convicted April 16 for possessing with intent to distribute marijuana. U.S. District Court Judge George P. Kazen set sentencing for a later date, at which time Gonzalez faces up to life in prison and a $10 million fine. He has been in custody since his Sept. 28, 2011, arrest where he will remain pending his sentence.

According to court documents, the jury heard testimony from a CBP agent who stopped Gonzalez as he was towing a trailer with fake paper dealer tags. The agent described Gonzalez's nervous behavior when he saw the marked Border Patrol unit car on Highway 83. He also saw an after-market compartment built underneath the wooden floorboards. The agent stated he could also smell marijuana while standing next to the trailer.

After a positive canine alert, the agents pulled open the wooden floorboards revealing the hidden compartment filled with 76 bundles of marijuana wrapped in cellophane and weighing about 1,400 pounds. The agents also testified that when they told Gonzalez they had found marijuana in his trailer, Gonzalez claimed responsibility for what was discovered.

Gonzalez did not testify on his own behalf. As part of his defense, it was argued that his nervous behavior is typical of anyone stopped by the police.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sonah Lee, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.