Three men have been sentenced to federal prison for their involvement in the distribution of over 40 kilograms of cocaine, as announced by U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Luis Jaime Escamilla, a 50-year-old legal permanent resident originally from Mexico, residing there, Joel Otoniel Medina, 35, from Penitas, and Andres Montalvo Jr., 38, from Mission, each pleaded guilty on June 16, 2023, to possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine.
Chief U.S. District Judge Randy Crane has handed down sentences of 66 and 46 months in federal prison to Escamilla and Medina, respectively, while Montalvo received 12 months and one day. Following their sentences, Medina and Montalvo will be on supervised release for three years, while Escamilla could face the potential loss of his legal status to reside in the country. During the sentencing, the court took into account the individuals' involvement in narcotics trafficking and the impact on drug distribution in the county. Despite their lack of prior criminal history, the court deemed the significant amount of drugs involved as a threat to the local community, justifying substantial sentences.
Previously, Rigoberto Beltran-Garza, 42, from Hidalgo, received a 46-month federal prison sentence.
Escamilla, on four separate occasions from October 2021 to January 2022, entered the United States via the Pharr Port of Entry. On each occasion, he met with another vehicle in a public parking lot to transfer a black bag containing cocaine bricks. Law enforcement intercepted the vehicles, identifying Medina, Montalvo, and Beltran, who admitted to being paid for transporting the cocaine. In total, law enforcement seized 41 bundles, weighing over 44 kilograms, with an estimated street value of approximately $500,000.
Escamilla remains in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility, while Medina and Montalvo were allowed to remain on bond and will voluntarily surrender at a later date.
The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations with the assistance of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office.