Drug courier admits having 11 kilos of cocaine

Maria Cristina Esquivel
Maria Cristina Esquivel

GULFPORT -- A Houston woman admitted she was acting as a drug courier when she was found traveling in Harrison County with about 11 kilos of cocaine.

Maria Cristina Esquivel, 56, faces up to five years in prison for interstate travel in aid of drug racketeering enterprises.

She accepted a plea agreement Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

Her sentencing is set for Aug. 23.

A state trooper had stopped her Nov. 24 for careless driving on Interstate 10. She was eastbound near the Canal Road exit and told him she was traveling to Charlotte, N.C., but had no luggage, court records show. The trooper reported he found bundles of cocaine in seat cushions in the second row of seats in the white Dodge pickup she was driving.

She also had a bus ticket for travel the next night from Houston, Texas, to Mexico. The destination was Monterrey, the capital city of Nuevo Leon.

She also had Mexico identification in her maiden name and $1,000 in cash, records show.

A Homeland Security Investigations probe revealed she was born in Mexico, often travels there to visit family, and has been a U.S. citizen since she was 16. Her U.S. citizenship could be revoked after a felony conviction.

Esquivel was indicted on three charges Dec. 8. The drug-trafficking charges will be dismissed in exchange for her plea.

She has been in custody since her arrest.