August 2nd, 2007 11:57 EST
35-year prison sentence for marijuana trafficking
DEL RIO, Texas - A federal judge here sentenced a Del Rio man to 35 years in prison for his role in a multi-million dollar marijuana trafficking case. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigated this case.
U.S. District Judge Alia Ludlum on Tuesday sentenced Alejandro Arreola, 31, to serve 420 months in federal prison.
ICE agents arrested Arreola in January 2006 when Mexican law enforcement extradited him from Rio Bravo, Mexico, to the United States via the Colombia-Solidarity International Bridge in Laredo, Texas. An investigation revealed that Arreola, a U.S. citizen, was hiding in Mexico after discovering that he would be indicted in the United States for importing marijuana in May 2003. With the assistance of the ICE Attach" office in Mexico City and the Mexican government, Arreola was turned over to ICE at the bridge. The investigation determined that he smuggled about 22,000 kilograms (more than 24 tons) of marijuana weekly into Del Rio from Mexico, with a street value worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
"The 35-year prison sentence sends a strong message to those contemplating a career in drug trafficking," said Janice Ayala, acting special agent in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in San Antonio, which oversees the Del Rio area. "ICE will continue to work closely with the U.S. Attorney`s office to bring to justice those individuals who blatantly disregard the law."
Arreola didn`t act alone; Casey Bob Hutto, 26, also a Del Rio native, was Arreola`s primary assistant. Hutto is now serving a 24-year prison sentence for importing marijuana.
During the investigation, ICE learned that Arreola recruited young men from Del Rio to help him distribute the marijuana across state lines. Many of those men were arrested and are going through court proceedings.
ICE encourages the public to report suspicious activity by calling the nationwide toll-free hotline at 1 866 DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Information gathered from the hotline is forwarded to ICE field offices around the nation.