A University of the Incarnate Word student and a friend related to Mexican politicians have been indicted on charges that they tried to smuggle nearly $1 million in drug cash from San Antonio.
Wednesday’s federal indictment, made public Thursday, added a charge of money laundering to the count that Rafael Gabriel Martinez Leal and Juan Pablo Hoyos Avila, both 19, already faced of bulk cash smuggling. The indictment provides no detail of the money laundering other than it occurred between Jan. 1 and July 15, the day they were taken off a rented private airplane at the San Antonio International Airport and arrested with the cash. The bulk cash smuggling charge is for the $909,099 that customs agents found on the plane, most of which was hidden in boxes.
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Hoyos is originally from Mexico but has lived in Texas since at least 2013 and was attending UIW as an international student. According to court records, Hoyos admitted to warehousing drug cash for Leal, who also admitted having smuggled $1 million a week for nine months before he was caught.
Leal made headlines in Mexico after his arrest because he is a cousin to the wife of the governor of Tamaulipas state and to the coordinator of the transition team in Tamaulipas of incoming Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador
If convicted, the pair face up to 20 years in prison on the money-laundering charge and up to five years on the cash smuggling count. Both remain behind bars without bond.
Guillermo Contreras covers federal court and immigration news in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @gmaninfedland