MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Two men have been sentenced to 17 years in federal prison for their role in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and meth — hidden in car batteries.

Victor Hugo Gil-Martinez, 28, and Rodrigo Aguilar-Rosas, who were both illegally residing in Edinburg, were ordered to federal prison, a news release from U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery stated.

The two were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 282 pounds of cocaine and 11 pounds of meth.

Gil-Martinez pleaded guilty to his charges on Jan. 3, and Aguilar-Rosas pleaded guilty March 22.

On Oct. 27, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez sentenced both Gil and Aguilar to each serve 210 months in federal prison.

Due to their illegal status, both men are expected to “face removal proceedings” following their imprisonment, the release stated.

At the hearing, the court noted Gil and Aguilar illegally entered the United States for the sole purpose of working in the drug trafficking organization.

The arrest

On Sept. 27, 2021, law enforcement conducted a search of an Edinburg residence and located about 39 vehicle batteries. Upon further inspection of the batteries, law enforcement discovered a total of 282 pounds of cocaine and 11 pounds of meth stored inside, the release stated.

According to the release, both Gil-Martinez and Aguilar-Rosas admitted to receiving the narcotics-filled batteries from other individuals who smuggled them into the United States from Mexico. They would stare the drug-filled batteries at their residence, remove the narcotics and then transport the drugs to other individuals across the Rio Grande Valley.

Authorities also located about $142,000 in wrapped U.S. currency upon further inspection of the residence. The money was destined to be transported to Mexico, according to the release.

The total narcotics seized had an estimated street value of $3,217,500.

Both men have been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future, the release stated.