Illegal immigrant last of 3 convicted in smuggling case

Carlos Pavon, 42, was convicted by a U.S. District Court jury on Friday after a three-day trial in U.S. District Judge Walter H. Rice’s courtroom. He faces a sentence of between 10 years to life in prison.

Amilcar Antonio Cortez Grande, 32, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, and Mario Felix, 45, of Spring Valley, Cali., pleaded guilty before Judge Rice in May 2015 to conspiracy and firearms charges, according to the release.

Pavon and two other men have been in custody since November 2014, when authorities found heroin packaged in five bricks hidden in the frame of a car connected to the trio, authorities said.

Authorities said evidence showed that Felix had driven the car from California to Ohio to deliver the heroin to Pavon and Grande.

The bust was the result of an investigation by the Homeland Security Bulk Cash Smuggling Task Force after they received a tip from law enforcement in California, according to the release.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman issued a written statement, vowing to continue to work with local agencies to keep heroin out of the Southern District of Ohio.

“Hidden compartments or ‘traps’ are a common method used by drug traffickers and officers receive constant training on detecting these traps,

Glassman’s statement reads.

Marlon Miller, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations Detroit, which covers Michigan and Ohio, said in a prepared statement that the best way to “target and dismantle a criminal group is to hit them where it hurts the most - in their wallets.”

“This conviction and the guilty pleas of the other defendants are a testament to the immeasurable value of the Bulk Cash Smuggling Task Force and the unique expertise and authorities each member agency brings to bear in these complex investigations,” Miller’s statement reads.

Grande was sentenced in November 2015 to 90 months in prison and sentencing is pending for Felix. A sentencing date has not been set for Pavon, who as an illegal immigrant, faces deportation after serving his sentence.

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