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Man Pleads Guilty to Smuggling Marijuana into the U.S. in Modified Truck

PHOENIX (LAWFUEL) – Hector Hernandez-Barba, 32, a Mexican citizen who resides in both Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico, and Calexico, Calif., pleaded guilty in federal court today to importation of 100 kilograms or more of marijuana.

On September 25, 2008, Hernandez-Barba drove his 1994 Ford utility pickup truck from Mexico to the San Luis, Ariz., Port of Entry. The bed of Hernandez-Barba’s truck had been modified to have a false bottom and 175.6 kilograms of marijuana in 13 packages were hidden underneath the false bottom.

Sentencing is set before Judge Susan R. Bolton on June 29, 2009. A conviction for Importation of 100 Kilograms or More of Marijuana carries a penalty of up to 40 years in federal prison, a $2,000,000 fine or both. In determining the actual sentence, Judge Bolton will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.

The investigation in this case was conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The prosecution is being handled by James Morse Jr., Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

CASE NUMBER: CR-08-1331-PHX

RELEASE NUMBER: 2009-107(Hernandez-Barba)

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