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December 8, 2020McAllen, TXUnited StatesNarcotics

Stash house operator, drug dealer convicted following ICE investigation

Man conducted “heat runs” to evade police and distribute cocaine

MCALLEN, Texas – A Mexican man was convicted Dec. 8 for possessing with intent to distribute over 40 kilograms of cocaine.

This case is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) McAllen, Texas.

Hugo Cristobal Garza-Ornelas, 35, from Mexico went before U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa to admit to possessing the cocaine for further distribution.

According to court documents, on March 17, authorities conducted surveillance on what they suspected to be a drug stash house. ICE HSI agents observed Garza-Ornelas departing the location in a possible load vehicle. Later, they witnessed Garza-Ornelas conducting “heat runs”, which are unpredictable routes meant to evade law enforcement. Agents attempted to stop Garza-Ornelas, however he fled from his vehicle on foot. Authorities quickly apprehended him and took him into custody.

A search of the abandoned load vehicle led to the discovery of approximately 14.68 kilograms of cocaine. Law enforcement also searched the stash house Garza-Ornelas operated and seized another 26.74 kilograms of cocaine, as well as a rifle and ammunition. The drugs had an estimated street value of $1.025 million.

Judge Hinojosa will impose sentencing Feb. 21, 2021. At that time, Garza-Ornelas faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison and a possible $10 million maximum fine. He has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Redavid of the Southern District of Texas is prosecuting the case.

Updated: 12/10/2020