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New Mexico woman accused of being drug courier for Mexican cartel sent to prison

June 11, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
New Mexico woman accused of being drug courier for Mexican cartel sent to prison

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A female middle-aged drug courier and smuggler for a Mexican drug cartel operating in New Mexico has been put behind bars. The woman was previously convicted of using her vehicle to conceal drug loads or stacks of cash to cross international bridges.

Yolanda Rodriguez, 50, appeared before a U.S. District Judge this week who sentenced her to a year and three months behind bars, along with three years of supervised release. Rodriguez is a citizen of the U.S. who lived in Mexico while doing work for the cartel, KVIA reported.

Court records have not identified the cartel by name but indicated that the criminal group’s areas of operation were mainly in Chihuahua, Mexico, along with New Mexico and Texas. According to court documents, those areas are largely dominated by the Juarez Cartel, which is also known as La Linea.

Amado Acevedo-González, 36, (above) a Mexican national, and Yolanda Rodriguez, 50, a U.S. citizen were found guilty of drug trafficking offenses and money laundering charges

Rodriguez is one of 20 cartel associates identified in a 45-count indictment focusing on the cell responsible for smuggling large amounts of marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.

Some of the cases filed by prosecutors include the sale of drugs to undercover agents in Las Cruces, New Mexico, the distribution of narcotics in Albuquerque, and the collection of hundreds of thousands of dollars for the sale of meth, cocaine, and marijuana.

The cartel cell would utilize smugglers who would travel through the isolated areas of the desert to get through the U.S. border in New Mexico.

The smugglers would move to a particular spot along Interstate Highway 10 near Deming and wait for other cartel associates to pick up the drugs, which would be taken to stash houses and later transported to Albuquerque. From there, the drugs would be brought to Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and other areas across the country.

Officials said Rodriguez transported drugs across the border concealed in a car battery

With cocaine or heroin, the cell would smuggle the drugs through various bridges by concealing the loads in cars, sneaking past U.S. border inspections. Members would send the drug profits to Chihuahua, Mexico by hiding stacks of cash inside tractor-trailers and other cars.

The co-conspirators used money or marijuana to purchase firearms acquired in the U.S. including an M-60 machine gun that was then snuck into Mexico.

Prosecutors indicated that Rodriguez joined the cartel in 2015 and was a drug courier responsible for transporting narcotics concealed inside a car battery.

Of the 20 cartel members identified in the indictment, 13 have been apprehended, and 11 pleaded guilty while two others including Rodriguez went to trial and were found guilty. Seven other suspects remain on the lam.

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