McALLEN–An Illinois woman gets a long federal prison for trying to help her father smuggle across drugs at a Rio Grande Valley Bridge.
Carolina Avila, 20, of Illinois, was handed a 121-month sentence for importing and possessing with intent to distribute more than seven kilograms of actual methamphetamine, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.
Avila was convicted by a McAllen jury on Jan. 11 on four federal drug counts associated with the importation and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine after one day of testimony and 2 ½ hours of deliberation.
During trial, the United States presented evidence which proved that on March 19 of last year Avila, along with her 18-month-old daughter and a male passenger, entered the United States through the port of entry in Hidalgo.
Avila, who was the driver, declared a case of beer that was located in the cargo area of the minivan.
Upon inspection, a Custom and Border Protection (CBP) agent noticed floating particles within several of the bottles. Additionally, a narcotics detection dog alerted to the presence of narcotics in the box containing the bottles of beer.
The vehicle and its occupants were referred to secondary inspection at which time agents searched the box and found 12 bottles of beer containing a total of 7.5 kilograms of actual methamphetamine.
During Avila’s initial interview with special agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), she denied any knowledge of the drugs concealed within the beer bottles.
Later she admitted that her father had asked her to cross the case of beer into the United States and had explained to her, through the use of a slang term, that the bottles contained an illegal substance.
Avila knew about her father’s involvement in drug trafficking. An ICE-HSI agent testified at trial that the conservative value of the methamphetamine in the Rio Grande Valley was about $225,000.
Avila was out on bond but was taken into custody following the return of the jury verdicts where she will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prison facility to be determined in the near future.