Former American trucking company owner sentenced for drug smuggling

McALLEN –(The Monitor) The former owner of an Edinburg. Texas trucking business was sentenced to 30 years in prison Monday for his role in a drug smuggling and money laundering ring.

A federal jury in Houston found Ricardo Garcia Heredia, 44, of McAllen, guilty in May of multiple counts of conspiracy and drug possession.

Prosecutors allege Garcia used his business – Edinburg-based Earth Transportation – as a front to recruit drivers for cocaine shipments that passed through the Rio Grande Valley on their way to Chicago.

Although the charges stemmed from activity between 1999 to 2000, Garcia had remained a fugitive until earlier this year. Federal authorities arrested him Jan. 11 as he tried to re-enter the country from Mexico using fake identification documents.

Garcia has also pleaded guilty to one county of illegal entry into the United States, stemming from that incident. The illegal entry charge stems from using fake documents to conceal his identity

During Garcia’s sentencing hearing in Houston on Monday, authorities say U.S. District Judge Hayden Head mentioned, but declined to consider, a June 27 incident in which Garcia’s brother-in-law allegedly tried to pay for his escape from the Brooks County Jail.

Antonio Treviño reportedly tried to pay $290,900 as a down payment for the escape to an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a U.S. Marshal on the take, a criminal complaint filed in a separate case shows. Treviño remains in federal custody pending a trial currently scheduled for later this year.

On Monday, Garcia was also sentenced to serve 10 years of supervised release upon the completion of his prison term.

His Houston-based attorney, Ralph R. Martinez, did not return after-hours phone calls following the sentencing.