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June 16, 2022Laredo, TX, United StatesContraband

HSI, federal partner probe results in sentencing of Houston man for attempting to bring narcotics to local mall

LAREDO, Texas – A Houston man was sentenced to six years in federal prison for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute approximately 4.65 kilograms of fentanyl, following an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Juan Alvarado-Vargas, 22, was sentenced June 16 in federal court to 72 months to be followed by three years of supervised release. In handing down the prison term, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo noted that Mexican Fentanyl is extremely dangerous and responsible for deaths all over the United States. Alvarado-Vargas pleaded guilty April 5.

“Fentanyl is the single deadliest drug threat our nation has ever encountered, it destroys lives, devastates our communities, and compromises the public’s safety,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Craig Larrabee, HSI San Antonio. “The sentence in this case is fitting of the serious crime committed by this defendant. HSI will continue to combat this serious threat.”

According to court documents, on Oct. 3, 2021, Alvarado-Vargas attempted to drive through the Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint along U.S. Highway 59 near Freer. During a search of his vehicle, authorities discovered approximately 4.65 kilograms of fentanyl hidden inside his car battery.

At the time of his plea, Alvarado-Vargas admitted that smugglers had offered him approximately $4,500 to illegally transport drugs into the United States from Mexico. He further admitted that his ultimate delivery destination was the Galleria mall in Houston.

Fentanyl is a synthetic painkiller drug that has morphine and opioid-like side effects but works at a mere one-hundredth of the/of a regular dose. Inadvertent exposure to high doses of fentanyl in micrograms can result in respiratory failure, overdose and ultimately death.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Francisco J. Rodriguez, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.