Two indicted for smuggling cannabis on student filled school bus
Two men caught attempting to transport 480 pounds of cannabis on a Van Horn school bus out in west Texas have been arrested and indicted by a federal grand jury.
20-year-old George Baird, a graduate of Presidio High School, and 22-year-old Anthony Paredez Juarez were attempting to smuggle duffel bags full of cannabis during a return trip from transporting school athletes from a basketball game during November of 2012.
The bus driver noticed the bags and alerted US Border Patrol agents while they were stopped at a gas station in Marfa.
Both men are charged with one count of attempted possession of between 100 kilograms and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and one count of possession with intent to distribute between 100 kilograms and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, that being Presidio High School.
Authorities suspect the two were working in cooperation with others, likely Mexican drug cartels.
As a result of the incident, Border Patrol Big Bend Sector hosted area school officials to discuss Border Patrol protocol when public school buses cross a Border Patrol checkpoint. Agents announced they would conduct an enhanced canine search of school buses.
In the event that a canine alerts to a hidden substance on a school bus, the bus will be sent to a secondary inspection, the bus driver and faculty notified of the situation, and all passengers, including the driver, faculty, school staff and students, will be asked to exit the bus and leave all their belongings on board.
Agents won’t inquire about the immigration status of students. Should any narcotics be found, large or small, the case will be handed over to DEA officials and local police officers and school officials will be notified.
Authorities declined to say what led investigators to Baird and Juarez, other than, “various investigative techniques.”
Police say it is likely that the two men will not only face federal charges, but will also likely be held accountable for the lost money from whoever was orchestrating the drug deal.
Upon conviction, each defendant faces a minimum of five years in federal prison per count. The statutory maximum sentence for conviction of the school zone related drug charge is 80 years incarceration and a $10 million fine. The statutory maximum sentence for conviction of the other drug charge is 40 years incarceration and a $5 million fine.
By: Stephen Carter
Stephen can be reached by email at TXCann@gmail.com