Man convicted in drug smuggling operation involving unsuspecting border commuters sentenced

An El Paso man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in a scheme that took advantage of unsuspecting drivers to smuggle marijuana from Ciudad Juárez.

EL PASO, Texas - Jesus Chavez, 38, was also ordered to pay more than $140,000 in restitution to his victims.

Chavez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to import more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana back in May.

Officials say Chavez implemented a scheme whereby he would gain access to the vehicles of unsuspecting individuals who had access to the dedicated commuter lane at the Stanton port of entry.

Chavez would obtain duplicates of the vehicles' keys and place duffel bags loaded with marijuana in the trunks of the vehicles. Then, once the vehicles entered the U.S. and were left parked, members of Chavez's organization would collect the drugs.

One of Chavez's victim's was El Paso teacher Ana Isela Martinez Amaya.

Martinez was convicted, but that conviction was later overturned and she was released.

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