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Mexican man admits to trafficking more than $1 million worth of heroin

PHOENIX – A Mexican man, who attempted to smuggle more than $1 million worth of heroin into the United States concealed in the spare tire of his truck, pleaded guilty Tuesday to drug trafficking charges.

Dario Alcaraz-Vega, 49, of San Luis, Sonora, Mexico, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin before U.S. Magistrate Judge David K. Duncan. The charges stem from an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Yuma, with assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

According to the plea agreement, Alcaraz-Vega was arrested at the San Luis port of entry Feb. 8 when he attempted to smuggle narcotics into the United States in his 1995 Ford F-150 pick-up truck. Port officials inspecting the vehicle discovered nearly 23 kilograms of heroin and 1.25 kilograms of methamphetamine hidden in the truck's spare tire. Alcaraz-Vega was supposed to be paid $3,000 for smuggling the drugs, which had an estimated street value of $1.3 million.

Alcaraz-Vega faces a maximum penalty of life in prison, a $10 million fine, or both. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 17 by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow.