Smuggler convicted: cross-border operation used trucks, compartments

| 2/2/2011

A federal jury convicted a Cleveland man for his role in a cocaine smuggling operation from Mexico into the United States. He now faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Federal prosecutors revealed in court that the operation used heavy duty trucks and trailers, U-Haul box trucks and secret compartments in cars to bring drugs over the border between the United States and Mexico. The drugs were then handed off to distributors in San Antonio and Houston.

?One of the co-defendants in this case was told that if his drug debts rose any greater, he would be taken to Mexico to answer to the bosses,? a Justice Department press release states.

Hector Hugo Tovar-Sanchez, 25, was convicted on Jan. 31 on multiple counts of conspiring to distribute cocaine. His sentencing is scheduled for June 15.

According to the press release, Tovar-Sanchez and others were responsible for bringing 17 kilograms of cocaine and about 1,000 pounds of marijuana into the Allentown, PA, area.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations with assistance from the Pennsylvania State Police, the Allentown Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Also, prosecutors say Tovar-Sanchez was responsible for bringing an additional 50 kilograms of cocaine to drug dealers in North Carolina and Delaware.

Tovar also faced federal marijuana charges in Texas and a charge tied to the discovery of a sawed-off shotgun in his Cleveland home found during his arrest.