Lone star stories from El Paso to Houston

- McALLEN, Texas (AP) — An Alabama man must serve nearly 27 years in prison in a South Texas drug smuggling case linked to 35 pounds of methamphetamine in a truck muffler.

Forty-two-year-old James Malone of Boaz , Alabama, was sentenced Thursday by a federal judge in McAllen. The Texas case involves a March 2015 search at the Hidalgo port of entry.


AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — An Austin businesswoman has been convicted of lying to federal agents in a public corruption probe linked to Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

Helena Tantillo was convicted Friday in Austin and faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced. The 59-year-old corporate executive was convicted of two counts of making false statements to law enforcement.


McALLEN, Texas (AP) — A former South Texas police investigator must serve seven years in federal prison for faking law enforcement reports about smuggled cocaine.Ex-Rio Grande City police investigator Noel Pena was sentenced Friday in McAllen. The 29-year-old Pena and another man, 21-year-old Hector Salinas-Hinojosa of Roma, were convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. 

Salinas-Hinojosa was sentenced to five years in a U.S. prison. Both men were arrested last April in an undercover case linked to Pena's work with the Starr County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force. Prosecutors say Pena was bribed by drug traffickers who would steal cocaine being stashed for Mexican cartels.

Authorities say Pena generated fake police reports making it look like the cocaine had been seized during law enforcement operations.


DALLAS (AP) — A former Texas police officer has been sentenced to the maximum 10 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography. Brian Kelley of Quinlan was sentenced Friday in Dallas. The 41-year-old Kelley last January pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography.

Prosecutors say Kelley in September 2013 had a flash drive that contained still images and video of a girl engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Prosecutors say Kelley, at the time of the offense, was a police officer at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

A UT-Southwestern spokesman says Kelley was fired In October 2013 before court proceedings began. Authorities say Kelley formerly was a deputy with the Hunt County Sheriff's Office.


.EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Federal officers in West Texas have confiscated nearly a half ton of marijuana being smuggled in a load of roofing shingles from Mexico. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials on Friday announced seizure of the pot with an estimated street value of $763,000.

The 288 marijuana-filled bundles were discovered Thursday night in the cargo of a box truck hauling pallets of shingles. Officers at the Bridge of the Americas cargo compound in El Paso located the 954 pounds of marijuana with help from a drug-sniffing dog.

The center portion of the load had been removed and replaced with the marijuana. A CBP statement says nobody was immediately arrested amid the investigation.

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