MCALLEN, Texas — A Cuban national was sentenced Monday for possession with intent to distribute marijuana and a subsequent charge of failure to appear, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office.
Alexis Estevez-Alvarez, 45, of Havana, Cuba, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Randy Crane to 110 and 20 months, respectively, for the drug and failure-to-appear convictions; these sentences are to be served consecutively for a total sentence of 130 months in federal prison.
Estevez-Alvarez, was originally charged in 2003. He was released on bond and scheduled for trial Oct. 3, 2003 before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane. Estevez-Alvarez failed to appear for court and was subsequently indicted on that charge.
He remained a fugitive for almost 10 years until he was apprehended Oct. 29, 2012. On that date he was discovered in the bed of a Ford F-150 pickup truck restrained and inebriated at the Progreso Port-of-Entry. Someone had crossed him into the United States, and then fled back to Mexico.
According to court documents, the case began June 20, 2003 when two former deputies with the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office approached a residence in Mercedes, Texas, seeking consent to search the residence. According to evidence presented during trial, the deputies found 42 bundles of marijuana totaling 671 kilograms (1,479 pounds) in a shed next to a pre-fabricated house on the property. Estevez-Alvarez stated he had lived on the property with his wife and another friend for about four months.
The government also proved that for the past 10 years Estevez-Alvarez has been able to work and live in both Weslaco, Texas, and Nuevo Progreso, Mexico, as well as maintain a relationship with his now ex-wife.
The defense contended that unknown individuals had "control" of Estevez-Alvarez that prevented him from showing up to court in 2003, and that it was fear of retribution from these individuals that kept him from court over the past decade.
Estevez-Alvarez will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Juan F. Alanis, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting this case.