South Texas man sentenced to more than 11 years for having meth-loaded tires following HSI, federal partner investigation
McALLEN, Texas — A south Texas man was sentenced, following a conviction for importing 500 grams or more of methamphetamines, as the result of an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Abiel Geronimo Fernandez, 20, from Rio Grande City, was sentenced to 140 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court heard that Fernandez asked someone to hide marijuana and a firearm while he was awaiting trial. The court also saw pictures from his cell phone of narcotics and firearms. In one, he was taking a selfie while wearing body armor and holding a rifle. In other photos, there were kilogram quantities of narcotics indicating this was not the first time he had transported large quantities of drugs. In imposing the sentence, Judge Alvarez noted that Fernandez’s arrest for alien smuggling one day before his arrest on this matter was troubling. Fernandez pleaded guilty March 22.
According to court documents, on Nov. 28, 2021, Fernandez attempted to enter the United States from Mexico at the Rio Grande City Port of Entry while driving a Chevrolet Silverado. Authorities referred him to secondary inspection where they discovered anomalies in all four tires of the truck. There was a total of 24 bricks of meth hidden within the tires. The total weight was approximately 59 kilograms with an estimated street value of $236,000. As part of his plea, Fernandez admitted he was recruited the day before to smuggle three kilograms of meth into the country in exchange for $3,000.
Fernandez will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined soon.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Colton Turner, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.
HSI is a directorate of ICE and is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), 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 86 overseas locations in 55 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.