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March 8, 2012Laredo, TXUnited StatesNarcotics

South Texas drug smuggler sentenced to nearly 4 years in federal prison

LAREDO, Texas – A Pharr, Texas, man was sentenced Friday to nearly four years in federal prison for possessing with the intent to distribute 1,364 pounds of marijuana, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), along with U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Border Patrol, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Webb County Sheriff's Office, and Jim Hogg County Sheriff's Office.

Senior U.S. District Judge Joseph Hood sentenced Juan Jose Cabrera Jr., 25, of Pharr, Texas, to 46 months in prison. Judge Hood also ordered Cabrera to serve a four-year term of supervised release after he completes his prison term.

According to court documents filed in the case, Aug. 24, 2011, a Webb County sheriff's deputy was patrolling Farm to Market Road 649 about three miles south of Mirando City, Texas. The deputy stopped Cabrera, who was driving a 2004 Chevrolet flat-bed utility pickup truck. As he walked up to talk to Cabrera, the deputy spotted what appeared to be an after-market compartment between the cab of the truck and the metal truck bed. The deputy also detected the strong odor of marijuana coming from the compartment. He then notified CBP's Border Patrol, which arrived with a narcotics detention dog that immediately alerted to the presence of drugs. A search of the compartment uncovered about 823 pounds of marijuana wrapped with cellophane and coated with grease, in an apparent attempt to mask the drug's odor. Cabrera was dressed in oilfield clothing to appear as an oilfield worker.

When Cabrera was arrested in August, he had also been recently arrested and charged for carrying 541 pounds of marijuana the previous month through Jim Hogg County. That load was discovered after a trooper stopped Cabrera for failing to slow or move over for a stationary emergency vehicle. He had been released on bail for that charge when the August 2011 incident occurred.

Cabrera has been in custody since his August 2011 arrest where he will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jim Hepburn, David White and Homero Ramirez, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.

Updated: 12/09/2014