BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A federal jury on Wednesday returned guilty verdicts against a 55-year-old Mexican man for methamphetamine trafficking.
This conviction was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez, Southern District of Texas. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) conducted this investigation.
Following a two-day trial and after about two hours of deliberation, Martin Araiza-Jacobo, a U.S. permanent resident who resided in Matamoros, Mexico, was convicted of conspiracy to possess and possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver as well as conspiracy to import and importation of methamphetamine.
On Jan. 19, 2017, Araiza-Jacobo attempted to enter the United States through a pedestrian lane at the Gateway International Bridge at Brownsville, at which time he declared that he was bringing in sandwiches and two bags of candies from Mexico.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer inspected the bags and immediately noticed the candies inside the bag did not match the candy images displayed on the bag. The contents also felt harder than expected. Authorities X-rayed the bags which revealed anomalies in both bags. When officers opened the bags, they discovered 83 packages containing 5.19 kilograms (about 11 ½ pounds) of methamphetamine.
Araiza-Jacobo stated he worked as a “cruzador” or a person who helps people cross groceries from the United States to Mexico. He claimed he had crossed into Mexico earlier that day to buy a sandwich for a lady and met an unknown man there who asked him to cross the bags of candy. The man was supposed to call Araiza-Jacobo once back in the U.S. and give him the name and description of the person to whom he would deliver the candy. Araiza-Jacobo denied ever seeing or talking to the unknown man before.
However, the jury heard evidence that Araiza-Jacobo had been in contact with this man since Jan. 16, 2017. Further, Araiza-Jacobo had actually initiated the contact. Testimony revealed that Araiza-Jacobo had overheard part of a conversation in which a man was looking for someone willing to cross a piñata and a box of candy into the U.S. and ship it to Atlanta, Georgia. Araiza-Jacobo got the man’s number and called him. Less than an hour later, Araiza-Jacobo commented that the trip was set.
Araiza-Jacobo has been and will remain in custody pending sentencing, set for Sept. 13. At that time, he faces up to life in federal prison and a possible $10 million fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Israel Cano III and Jason Corley, Southern District of Texas, are prosecuting this case.