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December 1, 2022McAllen, TX, United StatesNarcotics

South Texas drug trafficker receives lengthy prison sentence for distributing meth following HSI, federal partner investigation

McALLEN, Texas — A South Texas man convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamines was sentenced Thursday thanks to an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, commonly called HSI, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

On Dec. 1, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez sentenced Gabriel Anthony Pena, 26, of Corpus Christi, Texas, to serve to 260 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release. In determining the sentence, the court found that Pena’s role was that of an organizer or leader, as he had recruited another person to transport narcotics from the Rio Grande Valley to Corpus Christi. The court noted the extent and lengthy duration of the scheme, which involved at least 28 kilograms of meth seized over the course of multiple incidents — two of which involved the presence of a firearm. Alvarez also emphasized the need to protect the community. 

“As a consequence of his drug trafficking activities, Mr. Pena will be spending a substantial amount of time in federal prison,” said Craig Larrabee, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Antonio. “People who persist in distributing large quantities of methamphetamines should expect to suffer a similar fate. To deter this conduct, we will continue to bring to justice those proven to be engaged in the distribution of dangerous illegal drugs. HSI will continue to work aggressively with our federal law enforcement partners to keep our community a safer place to live.”

Court documents say that in March 2021, Pena’s co-conspirator attempted to pass through the Falfurrias checkpoint with 24 kilograms of meth hidden between the frame and taillights of a Volkswagen Tiguan. At that time, authorities seized the narcotics and later determined that   Pena had recruited her to transport the drugs through the checkpoint.

In April and June of 2021, law enforcement officials stopped Pena in Corpus Christi and found him in possession of over 400 grams of narcotics and a firearm. Later, officials executed a search warrant at his residence and discovered an additional 1.7 kilograms of meth. An investigation revealed that the drugs the co-conspirator was transporting were intended to be distributed throughout the Corpus Christi area.

Pena pleaded guilty Dec. 1, 2021. At the time of his plea, Pena admitted that he coordinated multiple smuggling attempts between March and June 2021 by recruiting co-conspirators to transport narcotics from the southern border to the Corpus Christi area.

Pena has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee Fry and Matthew Redavid, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.

For additional information about HSI’s investigative efforts, follow @HSI_SanAntonio.

HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 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 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Updated: 12/02/2022