MCALLEN, Texas–A former drug dealer who had entered the country illegally asked for leniency claiming he had come to the U.S. to escape drug violence.
“Things back home in Michoacán are really bad, the violence is really really bad,” Armando Gonzalez Garcia said in Spanish during his sentencing hearing on Thursday for a felony charge of illegal re-entry.
Gonzalez told U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez that he had tried to make a life for himself in Michoacán working in an avocado farm but the drug cartels made it impossible to work. He entered the country in February one day before U.S. Border Patrol agents caught him in Mission, Texas.
“We were driving out there in the truck with the avocados and a bunch of men with hoods and guns took us, stole everything, tied us up and beat us,” Gonzalez said in Spanish. He tried to show the judge the scars but moved in an awkward fashion because of the handcuffs and shackles. “Here, here is where I have the scars from being tied up for days and beaten.”
Despite the man’s pleas, Alvarez wasn’t moved because the pre-sentencing report that she received from court staff showed that Gonzalez had two prior drug smuggling convictions. The oldest conviction came in 1990 for a marijuana charge. The most recent was a June 6, 2011 conviction for methamphetamine trafficking for which he was sentenced to 60 months in prison and had since been deported.
“I do hear on and off from defendants about how bad things are in Mexico,” Alvarez said. “A lot of that violence originates from drug cartels.” The judge expressed her deep concern that the same cartels that create violence were the same criminal syndicates that Gonzalez was helping by trafficking drugs.
Alvarez ordered that Gonzalez be deported but not before serving a 46 month prison term for his repeated illegal entries.
“I am warning you sir, you are not to re-enter illegally,” Alvarez said. “If you do, you will only make matters worse for yourself because you could face up to 20 years in prison.”
Follow Ildefonso Ortiz on Twitter @ildefonsoortiz.