EL PASO, Texas — A local man was sentenced to 24 years and five months in federal prison April 13 for his leadership role in an El Paso-based narcotics trafficking organization that imported tons of marijuana from Mexico. This significant prison sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Hugo Robert Estrada, 40, was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, and be placed under supervised release for 10 years after he completes his prison term.
On Dec. 6, 2011, Estrada pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance. Information provided in open court revealed that from December 2007 until June 2009 the Estrada organization used tractor trailers to import more than 22,000 pounds of marijuana through various ports of entry in the El Paso area.
Often the loads of marijuana were wrapped in black PVC tape and concealed in shredded plastic to avoid detection. One of the largest seizures associated with this organization occurred in December 2007 when HSI special agents seized more than 10,000 pounds of marijuana from a warehouse in Horizon City, Texas. Another load of more than 6,000 pounds of marijuana was seized in September 2008 from a tractor trailer on Interstate Highway 10 in El Paso.
"It's always a good day for HSI El Paso when the hard work and dedication of our special agents results in successfully prosecuting and incarcerating those who seek to benefit financially from poisoning our society," said Dennis A. Ulrich, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso. "This case exemplifies HSI's commitment to identify, disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations in the name of public safety."