Man Tries to Smuggle Drugs Through SFO in False Bottoms of Suitcases

U.S. customs agents said they found the suitcases to be 'unusually heavy.'


A 22-year-old man has been sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison for attempting to smuggle cocaine and methamphetamine through San Francisco International Airport.

Pedro Daniel Rodriguez, a U.S. citizen who lived in Guadalajara, Mexico, was given the sentence by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said Rodriguez tried to smuggle more than 13 pounds of methamphetamine and more than four pounds of cocaine in the false bottoms of three suitcases he brought through the airport on Dec. 29, 2011.

Rodriguez had arrived on a flight from Guadalajara and was bound for Sydney, Australia, Haag said.

Rodriguez pleaded guilty before Judge White in September to six felony counts: conspiring to import, importing and possessing methamphetamine and conspiring to import, importing and possessing cocaine.

Some of the charges carried a possible maximum sentence of life in prison. Haag said Rodriguez admitted during his guilty plea that he knew the suitcases contained a significant amount of drugs and that he planned to deliver them to a person in Sydney.

Rodriguez and a companion, Yuniba Elizabeth Cordero, 23, who is also a U.S. citizen, were arrested at the airport after U.S. customs agents discovered the drugs during a search of their luggage.

According to an affidavit filed in the case by Homeland Security Investigations agent John Bartusevics on Dec. 30, 2011, inspectors became suspicious when they noticed that three of the four suitcases the pair had checked on the flight from Guadalajara were unusually heavy.

The inspectors then conducted a secondary search and discovered methamphetamine hidden under false bottoms in two of the suitcases and both methamphetamine and cocaine in the third, Bartusevics said.

In an announcement of the arrests in January 2012, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said the seized drugs were worth more than $500,000.

Four criminal charges against Cordero are pending in federal court in San Francisco, according to court records. She is accused of conspiring to import, importing, and possessing methamphetamine and conspiring to import cocaine.

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