US Sentences Drug and Human Trafficker to 38 Years

A Cuban man who turned his Texas farm near the border to Mexico into a drug and human trafficking hub was sentenced to more than 38 years in prison, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced.

ElPaso Human TraffickingOfficers searched in August 2020 his ranch and a second property and seized 11 firearms, more than 1,800 rounds of ammunition, 480 kilograms of marijuana, and four undocument illegal aliens. Authorities seized also US$157,000. (Photo: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, License)Gilberto Morales, 57, was found last summer guilty of using his 160-acre ranch in Fort Hancock, Texas, as a smuggling route for drugs and illegal immigrants from Mexico.

He coordinated activities with a Mexican drug cartel operating out of Porvenir, Mexico, from June 2019 to August 2020. During this time, Morales smuggled nearly 22 tonnes of marijuana into the U.S.

Apart from drugs, Morales smuggled undocumented immigrants since November 2019.

“For more than a year, Gilberto Morales operated his very own smuggling corridor through his ranch right on the Rio Grande, working with a Mexican drug trafficking organization in smuggling bulk marijuana and undocumented immigrants,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff in a press release from the Department of Justice.

Officers searched in August 2020 his ranch and a second property and seized 11 firearms, more than 1,800 rounds of ammunition, 480 kilograms of marijuana, and four undocument illegal aliens.

Authorities seized also Morales’ ranch, US$157,000, two trucks, and a horse trailer.

This is not the first time Morales has been involved in drug trafficking. In 2009, he was sentenced by the Southern District Court of New York to 50 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute over five kilograms of cocaine.

“Doing hard time in New York wasn’t enough for Mr. Morales. He decided to move to Texas and continue a life of crime and villainy,” said Special Agent Jeffrey C. Boshek II from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

“He should have known that Texas law enforcement is relentless.”

The second property authorities searched belonged to co-defendant Sergio Ivan Gonzalez, 36, in Clint, Texas. According to the Department of Justice, the property acted as a stash house for bulk shipments of smuggled marijuana.

Gonzalez pled guilty on July 21, 2021 to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana and is set to be sentenced later this month.