LAREDO, Texas — A California woman was sentenced Wednesday to nine years in federal prison after being convicted for conspiracy to import methamphetamine and heroin into the United States from Mexico.
This sentencing was announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick, Southern District of Texas. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Aurelia Rufino-Pilar, 42, from Bakersfield, California, was sentenced Jan. 31 by U.S. District Court Judge Diana Saldana to 108 months in federal prison. She is a U.S. permanent resident but is expected to face deportation proceedings following her release from prison. She pleaded guilty to the charges Sept. 5, 2017.
According to court documents, on April 21, 2017, Rufino-Pilar arrived by taxi at the Lincoln-Juarez Port of Entry Bridge in Laredo, Texas, and applied for admission into to the United States. At primary inspection, she stated she had luggage and some bags in the taxi. She claimed they were not hers and was just taking them to San Antonio for a friend.
She further stated she was a U.S. permanent resident who had traveled from her home in Bakersfield, California, to Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and had stayed there two hours to receive treatment for psoriasis. She said she was going to take her friend’s luggage to San Antonio and then return to her home in California.
The taxi was referred to secondary inspection and CBP discovered eight tubes of “mole” (sauce used in Mexican cuisine) inside four duffle bags. The officers opened one tube and found a cylindrical object from which a sample was taken and tested positive for methamphetamine. A sample from another cylinder tested positive for heroin. In total, CBP discovered a total of 36.18 kilograms (86.4 pounds) of liquid methamphetamine and 4.14 kilograms (9.1 pounds) of heroin.
Rufino-Pilar ultimately admitted that the purpose of her trip was to transport narcotics to San Antonio and to seek treatment for her skin condition. She planned to take a bus to San Antonio to deliver the narcotics.
Rufino-Pilar 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 Michael Bukiewicz, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting this case.