Mexican citizen sentenced nearly 20 years for smuggling over $1M in meth following HSI, federal partner investigation
LAREDO, Texas – A Mexican citizen was sentenced Aug. 4 to nearly 20 years for conspiracy to import and importation of meth, following an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the assistance of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Border Patrol (BP) Laredo Sector.
Juan Victor Larraga-Solano, 33, was sentenced by a federal judge to serve 235 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release.
In handing down the sentence, the court noted the seriousness of drug smuggling and the significant quantity of meth Larraga-Solano attempted to bring into the United States. The judge also pointed out that Larraga-Solano’s testimony at the two-day trial did not make any sense and that he had not acknowledged any responsibility for his actions. As Larraga-Solano is not a U.S. citizen, he is expected to face removal proceedings following his sentence.
According to court documents, Larraga-Solano attempted to enter the United States through the Lincoln-Juarez International Bridge in Laredo, March 8, 2020. He claimed he was importing glass beer bottles, juice boxes and meat contained in coolers from Mexico. Law enforcement inspected the items and noticed that, when shaken, the juice boxes sounded as if they contained rocks. Further, the alleged beer did not have any bubbles. A follow up X-ray examination also revealed anomalies in the walls of the coolers. Authorities conducted a thorough inspection and found 56 packages of meth and 12 beer bottles containing liquid meth. Overall, authorities seized a total of 44.56 kilograms of meth from Larraga-Solano.
During trial, the jury heard the total estimated street value was more than $1.1 million. Testimony at trial revealed that Mexican cartels have increased the price of meth to raise demand for less expensive drugs like cocaine and marijuana. Larraga-Solano remains in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility.
Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Brandon S. Bowling and former AUSA Adam E. Harper prosecuted the case.
HSI 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 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 86 overseas locations in 55 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.