Trucker convicted of hauling weed amid cargo of fruit

A commercial trucker has been convicted on drug conspiracy charges for his role in hauling 911 pounds of marijuana hidden amid a shipment of papaya fruit.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Gilberto Avalos-Rivera, 41, dropped off the marijuana on Oct. 19, 2009 at a residence in Griffin that the Mexican drug cartel La Familia was using as a off-loading site. The following day, Henry County police and Georgia State Patrol officers stopped two pick-up trucks leaving the property and discovered the drugs.

Drug enforcement agents searched the residence and found paperwork with Avalos-Rivera's name on it, as well as other evidence relating to the cartel’s activities. The trucker, from Pharr, Texas, was found that night hiding in an Atlanta hotel where, the U.S. attorney said, he was awaiting cartel members to take him home.

Avalos-Rivera admitted to his role in the marijuana transport and told agents he was paid $2,000 by La Familia. For conspiring to distribute and deliver more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, the defendant faces a statutory sentence range of five to 40 years in prison.

Also charged in the conspiracy:

Roberto Huff, 44, of College Park, who plead guilty in February to possession with the intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, and Oscar Morfin-Vargas, 29, of Ellenwood, charged with drug and money laundering conspiracy charges.

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