Houston Woman Sentenced to 10 Years for Drug Trafficking

Houston Woman Sentenced to 10 Years for Drug Trafficking

Brenda Banessa Leal, a 33-year-old woman from Houston, has been sentenced to 120 months (10 years) in federal prison for her involvement in a drug trafficking operation. The sentencing was announced by U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Leal was convicted of possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and conspiracy to do so after a bench trial held before U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera. The trial lasted from February 27, 2023, to March 1, 2023, with Judge Olvera deliberating for three days before reaching a verdict.

Evidence presented during the trial revealed that Leal had been assisting several family members involved in a drug trafficking organization since at least 2018. She facilitated the transportation of narcotics, primarily cocaine, from Mexico to Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley, with the drugs concealed in tractor trailers’ rear differentials.

Leal, who had lived in Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon, Mexico for most of her adult life, also aided in transporting bulk cash money, ammunition, and weapons to Mexico. She served as the logistics coordinator of the drug trafficking organization between February 2021 and June 2021, coordinating drivers, dealers, and cover loads on the U.S. side of the border.

In June 2021, Leal and her co-conspirators were preparing to unload a tractor truck containing approximately 33 kilograms of cocaine when the organization was robbed by another drug trafficking group. The authorities apprehended the perpetrators shortly after the theft.

Despite the defense’s claims that Leal was unaware of the cocaine hidden in the tractor trailer and was a victim of the robbery, Judge Olvera found her guilty as charged.

Leal will serve her sentence in a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility, to be determined at a later date.

The investigation leading to her conviction was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS – Criminal Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service, and the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, with assistance from the Texas Department of Public Safety.