A 31-year-old Mexican national, Juan Andres Rodriguez-Murillo, has been sentenced for his involvement in a conspiracy to traffic cocaine across the border, as announced by U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Rodriguez-Murillo pleaded guilty on November 1, 2023, to conspiring with others to smuggle narcotics into the United States by hiding the drugs inside car batteries.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos has ordered Rodriguez-Murillo to serve 60 months in federal prison. As he is not a U.S. citizen, he is expected to face removal proceedings following his imprisonment. The court emphasized the serious consequences for individuals involved in drug smuggling.
Previously, Mikeal Jovany Phillips, 36, of Huffman, and Christopher Sheffield, 39, of Crosby, were sentenced to 40 and 48 months in federal prison, respectively, followed by four years of supervised release.
The case arose from an incident on January 6, 2023, when Sheffield drove a gold SUV to the Border Patrol checkpoint near Sarita. During inspection, authorities discovered around 2.8 kilograms of cocaine concealed inside the battery compartment, with a smaller battery inside to power the vehicle and three bundles of cocaine.
An investigation uncovered text and Facebook messages between Sheffield and Phillips discussing the trip. Authorities determined that Phillips had organized the operation, arranging for Sheffield to travel from Houston to Brownsville to retrieve the cocaine. In Brownsville, Sheffield met Rodriguez-Murillo, who provided the cocaine-filled car battery and installed it in the vehicle.
Rodriguez-Murillo remains in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility. The Drug Enforcement Administration and Border Patrol conducted the investigation.