Woman who trusted man named “The Rat,” sentenced on drug import charge

McALLEN — Be careful of trusting a man nicknamed “the rat.”

That’s likely the lesson a woman learned in May of this year after she was found with nearly 15 kilos of methamphetamine at a port of entry attempting to enter from Mexico.

The 44-year-old woman, a resident of Rio Grande City, was arrested May 29 upon attempting to cross from Mexico at the Rio Grande City port of entry. She claimed that a man agreed to pay her $200 to take a vehicle from Mexico into the U.S. for car repairs — instead port officers found the narcotic hidden within the vehicle.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Guadalupe Garcia to a 70-month prison sentence Wednesday for her role in an attempt to smuggle into the United States the controlled substance.

Garcia, along with her 18-year-old niece, were stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers on that day in late May, and sent for a secondary inspection.

During the subsequent inspection, CBP officers discovered an anomaly on the side rear panel and noticed that the panel “sounded solid.”

“Upon removing the panel on the driver side, a package wrapped in cellophane wrap was observed. (Garcia’s vehicle) was taken to the import lot for Vacis X-Ray inspection where it showed some anomalies in the rear quarter panels,” the complaint states.

“A canine inspection yielded a positive alert to the presence of the trained odor of narcotics in the rear cargo area and the rear quarter panels.”

CBP officers eventually discovered 21 bundles, determined to be meth, weighing about 13.1 kilograms, the record shows.

Garcia told federal agents that the night before a man in Mexico, who she only knew as “La Rata,” or “the rat,” offered her cash in exchange for her transporting a vehicle from Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico to Rio Grande City, Texas, to have it looked at for mechanical repairs, the record shows.

“La Rata” allegedly offered Garcia $200 for this job, and despite her knowledge that “La Rata,” was an undocumented immigrant previously deported for alleged human smuggling, Garcia agreed to transport the vehicle.

Garcia said around 8:30 a.m. she crossed into Camargo, and had instructions to call the mechanic when she crossed over into the U.S.

“Garcia stated she thought it was unusual that “La Rata” would not tell her the name of the mechanic and asked him if the vehicle had anything illegal in it. “La Rata” responded that the vehicle had nothing illegal in it. At that point, Garcia stated she noticed “La Rata” looked over his shoulder inside the vehicle in a strange way,” the complaint states.

In August, Garcia, who was ultimately indicted on four charges, one federal import charge, two conspiracy charges, and one distribution charge, pleaded guilty to the import charge — in exchange federal prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining three charges, records show.

In addition to the 70-month prison term, Garcia will be required to serve four years of supervised release upon completion of her aforementioned prison term.

lzazueta@themonitor.com