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Tampa man sentenced to 78 months in prison for federal narcotics charges

TAMPA, Fla. – A Tampa man was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison Tuesday for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. The sentencing resulted from an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with assistance from the Tampa Police Department, Florida's Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and Texas' Cameron County Sheriff's Department.

The case began when HSI Brownsville received a tip that a shipping crate contained several hundred pounds of marijuana. HSI Brownsville worked with law enforcement officers from the Cameron County Sheriff's Department to obtain a state search warrant and verified that the crate did contain marijuana. After determining that the shipping crate contained drugs, they worked with HSI Tampa to coordinate a controlled delivery of the crate.

Arianne Rodriguez, 29, and his co-conspirator rented a delivery truck Dec. 9 and drove to a Tampa shipping company, where they accepted delivery of a crate that contained 323 pounds of marijuana. Rodriguez and his co-conspirator proceeded to load the crate onto the rented truck and subsequently transported the marijuana back to Rodriguez's Tampa residence. HSI special agents arrested Rodriguez after he opened one of the bundles of marijuana inside the crate.

"HSI and our local law enforcement partners will continue to stop the flow of illegal drugs that threaten the safety, security and stability of our community," said Sue McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa.

Rodriguez's co-conspirator, Yoan Valdes-Castro, is currently a fugitive believed to be residing near Cancun, Mexico. If you have information regarding the whereabouts of Valdes-Castro, call the HSI Tip Line at 866-DHS-2ICE or visit www.ICE.gov/tips.

A federal jury found Rodriguez guilty of both charges June 20.