Stash house operator who conducted “heat runs” convicted for drug scheme | USAO-SDTX

McALLEN, Texas – A 35-year-old Mexican national has admitted to possessing with intent to distribute over 40 kilograms of cocaine, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

On March 17, authorities conducted surveillance on what they suspected to be a drug stash house in McAllen. There, they observed Hugo Cristobal Garza-Ornelas departing the location in a possible load vehicle.

Later, they witnessed Ornelas conducting “heat runs,” which are unpredictable routes meant to evade law enforcement, and began pursuit. He attempted to flee from his vehicle on foot, but authorities quickly apprehended him.  

A search of the abandoned load vehicle led to the discovery of approximately 14.68 kilograms of cocaine. Law enforcement also searched the stash house Garza-Ornelas operated and seized another 26.74 kilograms of cocaine as well as a rifle and ammunition. 

The drugs had an estimated street value of $1.025 million.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa will impose sentencing Feb. 21, 2021. At that time, Garza-Ornelas faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison and a possible $10 million maximum fine. He has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Redavid is prosecuting the case.

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