U.S.A. v. T.P. On January 25th, 2023, in the United States District Court in the Southern District of Texas Laredo Division presided over by Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo, the jury found the defendant T.P., “Not Guilty” on all charges after deliberating for only 2.5 hours. The indictment alleged that between August 11, 2019, and August 16, 2019, T.P. knowingly conspired to import, conspired to possess, and did possess with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine. T.P. was facing life in prison.
Federal prosecutors presented evidence that the total weight of the methamphetamine was 380 kilograms. The prosecution’s theory of the case was that T.P., a dispatcher, and the driver (co-defendant J.S.C.), knew that there was a secret compartment in the trailer that was full of methamphetamine. According to the prosecution’s theory, T.P. was the mastermind because he hired the driver, produced the tractor, borrowed the trailer with a secret compartment, gave instructions to the driver, and coordinated the transfer of the drugs. The prosecution alleged that T.P. instructed the driver to go to Miami, Florida with a “cover load” before driving back north to Atlanta, Georgia to disguise their real intent — to distribute methamphetamine and smuggle cash back south to Laredo, Texas.
During cross examination, federal defense attorney Javier Guzman was able to get the lead case agent from Homeland Security Investigations to admit he did not do certain tasks as part of his investigation that would have dispelled doubts in the case. Specifically, the case agent failed to retrieve the GPS system from the seized tractor, and he also failed to interview key witnesses.
During closing arguments, Javier Guzman argued that although the federal prosecutors showed plenty of evidence that T.P. attempted to smuggle cash back to the border, there was no link between the cash and the drugs. T.P. maintained his innocence throughout the entire case and won his freedom.