After smuggling seven shipments of methamphetamine and heroin through the port of Tampa in 2018 and 2019, a woman from Georgia was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison.
Yolanda Herrera, 43, pleaded guilty in June 2020 and was convicted by U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday on Monday, the Justice Department said in a statement.
Herrera helped with the drug trade on the Leticia ship that traveled from Altamira in Mexico to Tampa, officials said. From October 2018 to March 2019, Herrera and two Mexican nationals made seven shipments on board, according to court records.
National Security agents found the drug after investigating one of the shipments that were made to look like stone blocks. Agents found abnormalities in the blocks and smashed them to find more than 50 pounds of methamphetamine and 3 pounds of heroin.
Herrera rented six trucks from Tampa and transported the drugs to a house in Atlanta. She admitted to police that she was engaged to coordinate and organize the transportation of drugs from Mexico to Tampa to Georgia, officials said. Agents who searched her home found the same stone blocks that were on board.
Two men who helped her, Nestor Vazquez-Morales and Adan Martinez-Onofre, were convicted in 2020. Vazquez-Morales was sentenced to 15 years and eight months, and Martinez-Onofre to five years and 10 months. A search of the Vazquez-Morales house revealed more than $ 12,000 in cash, three firearms, two kilograms of heroin and the same stone blocks, the statement said.
“Drug trafficking poses a deadly threat, bringing dangerous and addictive drugs and related criminal acts into our communities,” Tampa National Security Acting Special Agent Kevin Sibley said in a preparatory statement. “Our special agents are deeply committed to working with our law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking efforts in our communities.”