Traffickers admit to smuggling meth in fire extinguishers for cartel

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

LAREDO, Texas – Two Texas men have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 34.5 kilograms of liquid meth associated with the Cartel Del Noreste (CDN), announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Bonifacio Turrubiates, 48, Laredo, pleaded guilty today, while Dionicio Sanchez, 46, Houston, admitted his guilt June 3.

On April 28, 2020, authorities conducted a seizure on their vehicle in the parking lot of an HEB grocery store located in Laredo. There, they discovered kilograms of liquid meth hidden inside multiple fire extinguishers. The investigation revealed the meth belonged to an organization affiliated with the CDN.

As part of their pleas, Turrubiates and Sanchez admitted to conspiring to hide the meth inside fire extinguishers and transport them outside of Texas by driving the drugs north of Laredo.

U.S. Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo will impose sentencing at a later date for Turrubiates and Sanchez. At that time, each faces up to life in prison and a possible $10 million maximum fine.

Both men have been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.

The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Operation Noreste with the assistance of Webb County Sheriff’s Office. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, mutlti-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found on the Department of Justice’s OCDETF webpage.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Francisco J. Rodriguez is prosecuting the case.