Irving man sentenced in drug smuggling case

Man admitted to prior smuggling trips

A Texas man who attempted to enter the U.S. from Mexico in a van was sentenced to federal prison Monday, records show.

A federal judge sentenced John Dylan Palmer, of Irving, Texas, to a 6-year prison term Monday during an afternoon sentencing hearing related to his May 2020 arrest at a port of entry.

Palmer, 43, was arrested last May when he attempted to enter the country through the Hidalgo Port of Entry driving a utility van. He was sent for a secondary inspection after a search resulted in an alert for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer that suspected Palmer of being involved in drug smuggling.

“The van was registered to Palmer in the state of Texas. Palmer was referred for a secondary inspection due to an alert placed on him for possibly being involved in drug trafficking,” the document states.

Using an X-Ray, officers determined there were anomalies located in the floorboard area of the van.

“The vehicle inspections revealed a non-factory/hidden compartment within the floorboard of the cargo/passenger compartment of Palmer’s van. The hidden compartment contained several cellophane wrapped bundles suspected to contain drugs,” the criminal complaint states.

Ultimately officers removed nearly 33 kilos of meth from Palmer’s van.

Palmer was interviewed by federal agents.

“Palmer stated that he recently purchased and registered the Ford Transit Connect utility van to participate in drug trafficking,” the complaint states. “Palmer claimed that he suspected that his van contained drugs while attempting entry into the United States.”

Additionally, Palmer allegedly told agents he agreed to transport the drugs for a fee — and that he was to deliver the van’s contents to an unidentified person on the U.S. side.

Palmer stated he had previously driven vehicles suspected to contain drugs into the country from Mexico for money, the record shows.

As part of the plea agreement, Palmer pleaded guilty to one count of import of a controlled substance. The government asked the Court to dismiss three counts Palmer faced, two conspiracy charges, and one count of distribution of a controlled substance, at the sentencing hearing, records show.

In addition to his prison term, Palmer will be required to serve three years of supervised release, court notes show.