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Southwest Texas man sentenced to 18 years in federal prison for drug trafficking

DEL RIO, Texas – A local man was sentenced Thursday to 18 years in federal prison for drug trafficking more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.

This sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of San Antonio Police Department.

Diego Santillan, 32, from Del Rio, was sentenced March 6 to 216 months in prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. The judge also ordered Santillan to serve eight years of supervised release. Santillan pleaded guilty to the charges July 24, 2013.  

"This investigation resulted in dismantling a large-scale drug-smuggling, -staging and -transporting operation," said Special Agent in Charge Janice Ayala, HSI San Antonio. "HSI is committed to making our communities safer by conducting joint robust investigations with the San Antonio Police Department, and other law enforcement partners, to achieve that goal."

On March 31, 2011, HSI special agents identified Santillan as being involved in a large-scale narcotics-smuggling operation. When special agents executed a federal search warrant at a Del Rio home, they discovered more than 800 pounds of marijuana inside the residence and they made four arrests. During the course of this investigation, HSI special agents learned that Santillan operated stash houses in the Del Rio area. San Antonio police officers arrested Santillan Oct. 23, 2012 based on an arrest warrant obtained by HSI Del Rio.

This case was prosecuted in the Western District of Texas, Del Rio Branch Office.