A federal judge handed down more than six-year prison sentences for two Starr county women in a methamphetamine smuggling case, records show.
U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Helen Garza and Herminia Cantu-Garcia for their roles in a conspiracy to import methamphetamine into the country.
Garza, of Rio Grande City, and Cantu-Garcia, of Roma, pleaded guilty in late February to conspiracy charges related to the December 2019 incident.
According to the complaint against the women, Garza drove a car from Mexico and attempted to enter the United States through the Roma Port of Entry. Authorities subsequently inspected the vehicle and found hidden compartments within its tires.
Upon further examination, they found multiple bundles containing 50 kilograms of meth, a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas stated.
Garza admitted she knew there were drugs in the car when she was interviewed by federal authorities, the release stated.
Further investigation revealed Cantu-Garcia had coordinated the drug trafficking with Garza and other unnamed and unknown individuals.
U.S. Homeland Security Investigations officials said the sentence should convey a message that this type of criminal activity will result in severe punishment.
“The vast scope of this criminal scheme would have had a devastating effect on the citizens of south Texas. HSI along with our law enforcement partners will continue to seek out and bring justice to those involved in the illicit drug trade,” Shane Folden with HSI said in a statement.
As part of their plea deals with government prosecutors, the government agreed to dismiss the remaining charges they faced, including conspiracy to possess a controlled substance, and import and distribution of a controlled substance, court records show.
Garza and Cantu-Garcia will also be required to serve three years of supervised release upon completion of their respective prison terms, court records show.
Both women have been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.