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Mexico-to-U.S. cocaine trafficker pleaded guilty

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Nelson Wilfredo Rios, 49, of Fredericksburg, Va., pleaded guilty on Tuesday to cocaine trafficking charges following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Rios was indicted on May 14, 2009, by a federal grand jury on conspiracy to import cocaine charges. Sentencing has been set for Jan. 15, 2009. Rios faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial before the plea, Rios assisted a Mexican-based drug trafficking organization smuggle multiple-kilogram loads of cocaine from Mexico to the United States. The conspirators used secret compartments, or traps, built into passenger vehicles, to hold the cocaine as it traveled from Mexico to the United States. In addition to personally driving cars with cocaine across the border, Rios also recruited others into the drug trafficking organization to transport cocaine into the United States.

This case was investigated by ICE, with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service.