Army National Guardsman ordered to prison for trafficking cocaine

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FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Justice Building is pictured

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A 28-year-old Austin resident and active duty Army National Guardsman has been sent to prison for possession with intent to distribute kilogram quantities of cocaine, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Jonathan Zarazua pleaded guilty Jan. 13.

Today, U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez Jr. ordered Zarazua to serve 50 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. In handing down the sentence, the court noted Zarazua was responsible for trafficking numerous loads of illegal narcotics.

On Sept. 11, 2021, Jonathan Zarazua attempted to enter the United States through the Brownsville and Matamoros Bridge in Brownsville. He claimed he was returning after visiting his father in Mexico. At secondary inspection, an x-ray scan of his vehicle revealed anomalies and officers ultimately discovered 6.62 kilograms of cocaine hidden in a false compartment under the center console.

At the time of his arrest, Zarazua was an active duty Army National Guardsman employed as a Petroleum Supply Specialist. He also served on active duty with the United States Army from 2016 to 2020.

Zarazua admitted to smuggling the cocaine for individuals in Mexico and to having smuggled drugs into the United States on at least 30 other occasions. He further admitted he was specifically recruited because he could use his military status to facilitate crossing the border with illegal narcotics.

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He will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Edgardo J. Rodriguez prosecuted the case.