HARLINGEN, Texas (Border Report) — Five people linked to the Michoacan drug cartel were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for transporting meth into the South Texas border town of Laredo, U.S. Attorney Alamdar Hamdani said.
On Wednesday, U.S District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo issued a 20-year sentence to Gerardo Martinez, 65, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine.
Maria Valdez, 30; Rodrigo Sandoval, 31, Karina Garcia 27, all of Laredo; and Jose Alfredo Cruz-Salas, 37, a Mexican national from Nuevo Laredo, all previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport a total of 75 kilos of meth into the United States from Mexico and were linked to the Michoacan drug cartel.
Valdez was sentenced to 188 months, or 15.5 years in prison; while Sandoval, Garcia and Cruz-Salas received 5 years, 3 years, and 6-year sentences, respectively.
During the hearing, the court heard evidence that Valdez transported meth in a vehicle “while her 5-month-old son was in an improperly-fastened infant car seat,” a statement from the Justice Department said.
During sentencing, Marmolejo admonished the group.
“Martinez was hiding in plain sight, maintaining a front as a taxi driver while secretly doing the bidding of the Michoacan cartel on the streets of Laredo,” Hamdani said in a statement. “My late father was a taxi driver and the actions of Martinez simply offend me. He trafficked in pure meth and recruited multiple drivers. The seized drugs could have ruined countless lives. Today’s sentencings underscore the scope of the threat transnational drug cartels pose and our efforts to combat them.”
Investigators say the group was part of a complex drug ring that operated from February 2017 until September 2018. “Martinez assisted drug traffickers in Mexico by finding and recruiting drivers willing to transport high-purity meth through Laredo and into the United States,” the Justice Department said.