Jury convicts cocaine trafficker who used trucks to smuggle drugs worth $26 million into U.S.
Story by:at FreightWaves
A Texas man who headed a cross-border drug smuggling operation was recently found guilty by a federal jury in Brownsville, Texas.
Rafael Villanueva, 40, was convicted on Wednesday for his role in trafficking more than 1,000 kilograms of cocaine involving $26 million in drug proceeds, according to a statement released by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas in Brownsville.
During the trial, the jury heard from 21 witnesses detailing Villanueva’s role as head of a drug transportation group based in Brownsville that moved cocaine from the Rio Grande Valley on to cities throughout the United States.
“Villanueva had customers in Mexico who needed transportation for cocaine to areas throughout the U.S. — Houston; Chicago, Illinois; Jackson, Mississippi; as well as locations in South and North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia,” according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office. “The commercial vehicles were outfitted with special compartments to hide the cocaine and drug proceeds.”
Several witnesses testified Villanueva hired them to move the cocaine north and the drug proceeds south. Fellow traffickers also testified Villanueva borrowed their trucks for the cocaine when commercial drivers Villanueva hired were arrested with loads of cocaine.
Villanueva was convicted of drug trafficking and money laundering. His sentencing is set for May 4. He faces up to life in prison and will remain in custody pending his hearing.
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Source and credits: freightwaves.com // iTrucker / Mario Pawlowski