A West Texas man has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison after tons of drugs were smuggled using vehicles of unsuspecting drivers.
Prosecutors say 38-year-old Jesus Chavez of El Paso must also pay nearly $142,000 in restitution. Chavez in May pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import marijuana.
Investigators say smugglers identified cars frequently using a dedicated commuter lane from Mexico into Texas.
Smugglers would obtain copies of keys to the vehicles and then slip bags of marijuana into the trunks. The bags were retrieved in Texas.
Prosecutors say about 6,600 pounds of marijuana moved from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, into El Paso before the scam fell apart in 2011. Smugglers targeted the car of an award-winning teacher whose arrest drew outrage and media attention.
Chavez was sentenced Monday.