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South Texas siblings plead guilty for their roles in marijuana smuggling venture

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Two South Texas men have admitted they organized the smuggling of approximately 170 kilograms of marijuana from El Cenizo to Laredo, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

Roberto Chavarria, 38, pleaded guilty on Monday, while his brother  – Daniel Chavarria, 35, entered his plea Dec. 1, 2020. The El Cenizo men admitted to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute marijuana.

On May 25, 2017, both helped load large bundles of marijuana into the back of a black pickup truck at Roberto Chavarria’s residence in El Cenizo. The drugs had been previously gathered from the banks of the Rio Grande River. Daniel Chavarria then attempted to escort the drug-laden truck to a stash house in Laredo.

After conducting surveillance, law enforcement attempted to stop the pickup truck for a traffic violation while in route. However, the driver led authorities on a chase and quickly fled the scene. 

Authorities found the abandoned vehicle shortly thereafter in the middle of the road with the lights on and still running. They conducted a search and removed five large bundles of marijuana weighing 169.5 kilograms with an estimated street value of $299,200.

Law enforcement were eventually able to identify and locate the brothers and took them into custody.

U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana will impose sentencing at a date still to be determined. At that time, both men face a minimum of five years in federal prison and a possible $5 million maximum fine.

The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation with assistance of the Webb County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Makens is prosecuting the case.

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