MISSION, Texas (Border Report) — A lawyer for a Mexican city councilwoman who has decided to plead guilty to U.S. federal drug trafficking charges tells Border Report that he is not surprised, but is disappointed in his client’s decision.
Denisse Ahumada-Martinez, 34, a city councilwoman from the Mexican border town of Reynosa, on Monday signed an intent to plead guilty to federal charges of selling, distributing or dispensing of drugs.
She faces life in prison, but Samuel Reyes, who represents her in another drug trafficking case brought by the State of Texas, says he believes she will serve closer to 10 years in federal prison because she has no prior U.S. convictions.
He said her plea agreement will make it difficult to prove her innocence on state drug-trafficking charges that also are brought against her by Brooks County. But he told Border Report that he didn’t believe she has the financial resources to prove to the court that she was pressured by drug cartels to carry the illegal drugs across the border into South Texas.
“I was disappointed, but I wasn’t shocked because again, I also know the reality of having to have the resources to be able to prove stuff in court,” Reyes said. “I knew that she was considering it.”
Border Report reached out to the lawyer representing Ahumada-Martinez in the federal case but he has not responded to interview requests.
Reyes was originally assigned to represent Ahumada-Martinez after she was arrested on June 10 after U.S. Border Patrol agents said they found over 90 pounds of drugs, including cocaine, wrapped in duct tape inside the seats and door panels of a car she was driving through the CBP checkpoint in the South Texas town of Falfurrias.
During a June 15 hearing in McAllen, Texas, a DEA special agent testified that Ahumada-Martinez had been driving a car with her two children, ages 2 and 7, when she was pulled over for further inspection and her car was X-rayed.
“After they X-rayed the vehicle they discovered anomalies and began to search and they found kilos of cocaine inside the seats, including the seats where her children were sitting. It was packages in duct-taped bricks, which is consistent with smuggling of cocaine,” the agent said.
A total of 42 kilograms, or 90 pounds of cocaine, was found in the vehicle, officers said.
“She waived her rights and provided a statement stating in which she crossed from Reynosa to Hidalgo and drove straight to the checkpoint and she was aware that she was doing something illegal,” the agent testified.
She reportedly did not know what exactly the vehicle was carrying, but claims she was told by Mexican drug cartel to drive it to San Antonio where she would receive further instructions on where to drop it off.
Initially, the federal drug charges were dropped against her, but as she was returning to Mexico a few days later, she was arrested at the McAllen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge and arrested on drug trafficking charges filed by Brooks County, which is where Falfurrias is located.
On Tuesday, Brooks County Sheriff Urbino “Benny” Martinez told Border Report that they were going to hold the charges until they learn more of the time she will serve.
“I’m going to hold onto that warrant until she gets sentenced,” Martinez said. “We’ll keep the warrant active.”
She is charged in Brooks County with possession of more than 400 grams of a controlled substance, a first-degree felony that is punishable between 10 to 99 years in prison.
Martinez said he would consult with the district attorney to decide if they will drop the charges.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at SSanchez@BorderReport.com.