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July 2, 2018Lubbock, TX, United StatesNarcotics

Federal jury in Lubbock, Texas, convicts El Paso man on drug trafficking charges

LUBBOCK, Texas — Following a one-day trial Monday before a federal jury has convicted for his role in smuggling heroin and cocaine into the United States.

This conviction was announced by U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox of the Northern District of Texas. This case was investigated by the following agencies: the 32nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Enrique Rodriguez, 37, of El Paso, Texas, was convicted on one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, one count of possession with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, and one count of possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. Senior U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings will set a sentencing date once the presentence report is filed. Rodriguez has been in federal custody since his arrest April 25, 2018.

According to evidence presented at trial, on April 25, 2018, an investigator with the 32nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office conducted a traffic stop of a 2007 Ford Escape for an expired vehicle registration sticker. After noticing numerous indicators of suspicious activity, the investigator had a narcotics detection canine do an open-air sniff around the Ford Escape. The canine alerted to the odor of narcotics coming from the vehicle.

A later search of the 2007 Ford Escape yielded two kilograms of heroin and one kilogram of cocaine. Law enforcement later recovered two more kilograms of cocaine hidden inside the center console of the vehicle.

During the trial, the United States presented evidence that Rodriguez was a lieutenant in the Barrio Azteca criminal street gang. It also presented evidence that Rodriguez had smuggled the drugs from Mexico into the United States on April 24, 2018, for the Juarez Cartel and its enforcement arm, La Linea. In total, Rodriguez had smuggled about 1,000 pounds of heroin and 1,000 pounds of cocaine into the United States.

Rodriguez’s sentence will be determined by the court after a review of the federal sentencing guidelines and factors unique to the case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Juanita Fielden, Anderson Hatfield and Jeffrey Haag, Northern District of Texas, are prosecuting this case.