Drug smuggling driver will be delivered to federal prison

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A driver who tried to go through the Pine Valley check­point with 21 packages of fen­tanyl has been sentenced to 37 months in federal prison.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons website says Jose Armando Hernandez Velasquez, 24, will be released on May 13, 2021.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Colin McDonald urged U.S. District Court Judge Janis Sammarti­no to impose a 51-month term while defense attorney Thomas Sims asked for a 21-month term.

Hernandez is confined at the Victorville federal prison which was recommended by the judge to accommodate family visits. He was given credit for approxi­mately six months in jail since his arrest.

Fentanyl is a dangerous syn­thetic opioid that is deadly even in small amounts. Velasquez pleaded guilty to possession of fentanyl with intent to distrib­ute.

The incident occurred on Sept. 5, 2018, when Hernandez was driving a silver Mini Coo­per at 1:53 p.m. as he approached the Interstate 8 checkpoint. Hernandez told a Border Patrol agent he was on his way to the Viejas Casino in Alpine.

An agent’s dog alerted him to the vehicle’s floorboard, and the Mini Cooper was sent to a sec­ondary inspection.

The vehicle was transported to the hydraulic lift for further inspection. An agent used a fiber optic scope within an open­ing and saw sealed bundles on a false bottom compartment.

Agents removed 21 vacuum sealed packages that weighed 55 pounds. The packages contained a mixture of the deadly fentanyl drug with piperidinyl.

Hernandez is a Mexican citi­zen with a permanent resident card. His girlfriend, Sandra Cristina Osuna Nunez, was initially charged with him, and she told agents she was unaware of any drugs in the vehicle.

A prosecutor asked the judge to dismiss the case against Osuna, and she was released from jail on Oct. 4 without any charges.

During a later interview, Her­nandez told agents with the Drug Enforcement Administra­tion that he was aware he was transporting illegal merchan­dise for a fee of $2,500.

Hernandez said he had trans­ported illegal substances be­fore, approximately six to seven times.

Drug smuggling driver will be delivered to federal prison

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