Two Mexican men caught with 26 kilos of pure powder cocaine while traveling through Hempstead County, Ark., recently pleaded guilty in a Texarkana federal court.
Miguel Yanez-Garcia appeared Thursday before U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey with federal public defender Tiffany Fields. Yanez-Garcia entered a guilty plea to possession of cocaine and aiding and abetting. As part of their plea bargains, Yanez-Garcia and his co-defendant, Jose Rojas-Sanchez, pleaded guilty to possessing between five and 15 kilos of cocaine.
Amounts above 15 kilos incur a greater punishment range than the one facing them now. At sentencing, Yanez-Garcia and Rojas-Sanchez, who pleaded guilty Aug. 17, face up to 20 years in federal prison, a fine up to $1 million, or both.
The men were driving on Interstate 30 through Hope, Ark., when a Arkansas State Trooper Kyle Peek noticed a gold Chevy Malibu tailgate an 18-wheeler and change lanes without signaling. When Peek pulled the Malibu over, he noticed a single key in the ignition, several empty cans of Monster energy drink and two back packs in the back seat.
Using a density meter, the trooper determined the car was unusually dense in an area it shouldn’t have been. While inspecting the Malibu’s undercarriage, the trooper noticed the car had been sprayed with fake mud to cover a spot where a bonding agent had been used.
The trooper had to use a drill to release a fake compartment which was later found to contain 26.4 kilograms of pure powder cocaine. Both men have been in jail since their arrests Nov. 20, 2014.
Yanez-Garcia and Rojas-Sanchez will return to court for formal sentencing in a few months. Both face deportation after serving any federal prison sentence they receive.