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South Texas man sentenced to nearly 7 years in prison for smuggling more than 3 tons of marijuana

LAREDO, Texas – A south Texas man was sentenced Friday to six years and eight months in federal prison following his conviction of possession with the intent to distribute more than three tons of marijuana.

This sentence was announced by 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), with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Border Patrol.

Rodolfo Reyna Sanchez, 45, of Rio Grande City, Texas, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Diana Saldaña to 80 months imprisonment, and three years of supervised release.

According to court documents, on July 30, 2012, CBP agents were patrolling the Mines Road area northwest of Laredo. They noticed a tractor-trailer traveling north, which agents determined as registered to Sanchez. The vehicle was traveling on a route commonly used to avoid CBP checkpoints and contained caliche, a sedimentary rock with little value, in the back. When agents approached, they immediately noticed a strong smell of marijuana. Sanchez provided consent to search his vehicle, at which time agents discovered 404 bundles of marijuana under the thin layer of dirt and rock in the trailer. The seized marijuana weighed 2,845.5 kilograms (6,273 pounds).

Sanchez admitted someone had paid for the truck and instructed him to register it in his name. He was en route to Houston where he was to receive $50,000 for transporting the marijuana. He admitted he knew the truck contained marijuana.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Rabe, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.