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April 22, 2022McAllen, TX, United StatesContraband

ICE HSI, federal partner investigation sends a South Texas woman to prison for importing close to 54 pounds of heroin from Mexico into the US

MCALLEN, Texas – A south Texas woman was sentenced Friday to more than five years in prison for importing more than $827,000 in heroin, following an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Amanda Zaragoza, 29, from Edinburg, Texas, was sentenced April 22 in federal court to 65 months in federal prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence that Zaragoza had been previously involved in successful drug trafficking incidents, had extensive contacts within the drug trafficking organization and significant mental health and substance abuse issues. In handing down the sentence, the court noted that she played a significant part in the movement of controlled substances into the United States from Mexico. Zaragoza pleaded guilty July 29, 2021.

“The sentence imposed on Zaragoza sends a clear message that there are serious consequences to trafficking controlled substances,” said Special Agent in Charge, Shane Folden, HSI San Antonio. “HSI along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to seek out and bring to justice those involved in the illicit drug trade."

According to court documents, on May 17, 2021, Zaragoza attempted to pass through the Port of Entry located in Pharr, Texas, while driving a grey Volkswagen sedan. After she made a negative declaration, a K-9 alerted authorities to narcotics in the tires of the vehicle. Inside, an X-ray inspection revealed a total of 24.49 kilograms of heroin. The drugs have an estimated street value of $827,259.

Zaragoza remains in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eliza Carmen Rodriguez, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.

HSI encourages you to report suspicious activity, you are urged to call 1-866-348-2423.

HSI is a directorate of ICE and 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.

Updated: 04/25/2022