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Three accused of smuggling drugs in lancha

September 19, 2018

Three Tamaulipas men are facing charges for allegedly unloading approximately 480 pounds of marijuana off of a fishing boat near a popular beach bar on South Padre Island.

The alleged smuggling plot was foiled by multiple law enforcement agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Marine Interdiction, the United States Coast Guard and local law enforcement, who were working the South Padre Island coastline on Sept. 13 and observed a fishing vessel, or lancha, with lights out traveling northbound along the coastline.

The USCG deployed an “air asset” that observed three crew members unloading bundles to two unknown individuals who stored them behind the sand dunes near the 2500 block of Gulf Boulevard, a stretch of road that includes condos, hotels and Boomerang Billy’s Beach Bar.

The two unknown individuals fled and the lancha departed, heading south toward Mexico, according to a criminal complaint.

However, the crew couldn’t make it south of the border.

CBP Marine Interdiction agents intercepted the lancha approximately 100 yards north of the jetties, according to a criminal complaint, which states that one suspect jumped out of the boat and tried to swim to shore, but was caught.

Authorities recovered 21 bundles of marijuana from the dunes.

Francisco Sanchez De La Cruz, born in 1984, Mariano Dominguez De Dios, born in 1986, and Enrique Andrade Hernandez, born in 1983, are all charged with knowingly possessing with the intent to distribute 481 pounds of marijuana, and conspiracy to do the same.

The trio is being held without bond pending a preliminary examination and detention hearing scheduled at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Ignacio Torteya III, court records indicate.

mreagan@brownsvilleherald.com

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