McALLEN, TEXAS (ValleyCentral) — A member of the Reynosa City Council confessed Friday to smuggling cocaine through South Texas.
During a hearing on Friday morning, Denisse Ahumada Martinez, 34, of Reynosa admitted that she attempted to drive through a Border Patrol checkpoint with about 93 pounds of cocaine.
“Guilty, your honor,” Ahumada said.
Ahumada crossed the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge on June 10 and headed north on U.S. 281.
Border Patrol stopped her white Mazda SUV at the Falfurrias checkpoint.
Along with her two children, agents found 93 pounds of cocaine hidden in the SUV.
Border Patrol contacted the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which dispatched two agents to Falfurrias. With assistance from a Border Patrol agent, who served as a translator, they questioned Ahumada about the cocaine.
Ahumada claimed someone had threatened her family, said DEA Special Agent Nicholas Landsman, who testified during a hearing in June.
“She stated that she felt like they might harm her kids,” Landsman said. “She never gave us a description on the type of threat.”
Who threatened Ahumada and when the threats started remains unclear.
“She stated that, at one point, she started receiving a call from somebody she didn’t know in Mexico,” Landsman said. “Instructing her that: ‘Hey, you need to do this.’”
According to Ahumada, she was instructed to drive to Monterrey on June 9 and drop off her SUV. Ahumada said she picked up her SUV later that day and returned to Reynosa.
On June 10, she crossed the international bridge and headed to San Antonio.
A “law enforcement alert” had been placed on her SUV, Landsman said. When the SUV arrived at the checkpoint, Border Patrol sent Ahumada to secondary inspection.
Agents found cocaine hidden in the seats and door panels of the SUV, according to the criminal complaint against Ahumada.
“She said she was not aware of the drug or how much,” Landsman said. “She just was aware that she was doing something illegal.”
Five days after her arrest, however, a judge dismissed the case against Ahumada after concluding the government could not actually prove she knew the SUV contained drugs.
To prevent her from leaving the country, prosecutors arranged for the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office to arrest Ahumada on a state charge.
While she waited in jail, prosecutors took the case to a grand jury, which indicted Ahumada on two federal drug trafficking charges.
A judge ordered Ahumada be held without bond. After three months in jail, she struck a deal with prosecutors.
Ahumada pleaded guilty to possession of 5 kilograms or more of cocaine with intent to distribute. In return, prosecutors agreed to drop a conspiracy charge against her.
As part of her plea, Ahumada admitted that she knew the SUV contained drugs but denied knowing the type of drug or the exact amount.
Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 31, 2024 at which time Ahumada faces 10 years to life in federal prison.