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Fentanyl hidden in limes shipment headed into Texas: feds

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File photo of limes. A man was sentenced to federal prison after authorities say drugs were smuggled in a trailer holding a shipment of limes.

AP

A man caught smuggling drugs into Texas with a shipment of limes has been sentenced to prison, federal authorities say.

Nestor Carbajal-Alvarez, of Mexico, pleaded guilty to importing fentanyl and cocaine into the U.S. in April 2021, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Texas. He was sentenced to 60 months of prison on Thursday, Jan. 6.

The defense attorney representing Carbajal-Alvarez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As Carbajal-Alvarez tried entering the country through the Pharr Port of Entry, he was sent from a primary inspection to a secondary one because he was a first-time importer, according to the criminal complaint filed in court.

Customs and Border Protection officers inspecting the shipment of limes conducted a “non-intrusive image scan of the tractor trailer,” which authorities say revealed anomalies near the fifth wheel of the landing gear.

Officers completing a physical inspection said they noticed tampering to the landing gear. The officers then drilled through the trailer’s floor, court records say, and extracted a “white powdery substance.”

Tests of the powder confirmed characteristics of fentanyl and cocaine, officials say.

In total, officials say they found 40 packages of cocaine weighing around 95 pounds and 4 packages of fentanyl weighing more than 10 pounds. The government estimates the drugs to have a street value of about $1,063,500.

Homeland Security Investigations special agents read Carbajal-Alvarez his Miranda warnings in Spanish, records show, and he said he understood his rights and waived them in writing.

He then admitted to knowing the trailer contained a controlled substance but said he did not know how much, officials say. He reportedly said he was going to offload the limes in McAllen, drop the trailer off at a gas station near the southern Texas city and that an unknown person would then pick up the trailer.

Carbajal-Alvarez’ defense attorney argued he did not know much about the “drug trafficking scheme,” according to the news release.

“However, the government contended it was a substantial load of controlled substances that could have potentially harmed many citizens,” officials say.

Carbajal-Alvarez is already in custody and will be transferred to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility.

Kaitlyn Alanis is a McClatchy National Real-Time Reporter based in Kansas. She is an agricultural communications & journalism alumna of Kansas State University.




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