Yesterday, Adam Rico, 27, and Amber Lee Bengoa, 26, of Lubbock, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings. Rico pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and aiding and abetting. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine. Bengoa pleaded guilty to one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and aiding and abetting. She faces a statutory penalty of not less than five years and up to life in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
On July 24, 2014, co-defendant Alexis Starr Frausto, 23, also of Lubbock, pleaded guilty to one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. She faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
Judge Cummings ordered presentence investigation reports on all defendants with sentencing dates to be set after the completion of those reports.
According to documents filed in the case, in March 2014, the South Plains Auto Theft Task Force received information from OnStar that a stolen vehicle they were attempting to find was located in the area of Lubbock’s North Frankford Storage Zone. Just as OnStar was to activate the vehicle’s horn to assist the Task Force, officers saw Rico coming out of one of the storage units. In response to their inquiry, Rico confirmed that the Camaro was inside the storage unit. After officers observed a semiautomatic rifle leaning against the wall of the storage unit, they entered the unit to perform a protective sweep for additional weapons or individuals. Rico and co-defendant Frausto were the only individuals in the unit, but officers observed methamphetamine in plain view.
Officers obtained a search warrant to search the storage unit and located methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, $4,452 in cash, two stolen vehicles, drug packaging and scales. Frausto admitted that she and Rico knowingly possessed the semiautomatic rifle, and she further admitted that she was a convicted felon.
Approximately two weeks later, the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office, which had been investigating Bengoa for narcotics and counterfeiting, observed her driving a vehicle without a license. During the ensuing traffic stop, it was determined that the two adult passengers in the vehicle were wanted on warrants and were arrested. With Bengoa’s consent, officers searched the vehicle and located, in the front seat, a 9mm semiautomatic handgun, methamphetamine, cocaine, and drug trafficking materials, such as packaging material and scales, all within arms’ reach of Bengoa. She admitted that she and the adult passengers in the vehicle knowingly possessed the firearm in furtherance of intending to distribute the methamphetamine in the vehicle.
The Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office led the investigation, with the assistance of the Lubbock Police Department, South Plains Auto Theft Task Force, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Cunningham is in charge of the prosecution.
(Press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Texas)