ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The arrest of Angel Ibes Diaz-Rivera in March 2015 appeared to be a typical Drug Enforcement Administration bust at the Greyhound bus station in Albuquerque.
Agents boarded an eastbound bus and began talking with Diaz-Rivera, in what agents call a “meet-and-greet.”
Diaz-Rivera agreed to allow the agents to search his luggage.
They found a false bottom that revealed a clear, heat-sealed plastic bundle containing more than 6 pounds of white powder.
The amount wasn’t unusual, and agents frequently find drugs on buses and Amtrak trains heading east through Albuquerque.
They figured the contraband was methamphetamine or possibly cocaine.
It was fentanyl on its way to New York.
Defense attorneys accused agents of violating Diaz-Rivera’s civil rights in conducting the search, but it was ruled a legal search.
Diaz-Rivera, who said he was a truck driver in his hometown of Tijuana, said he was being paid $800 to transport the drugs to New York and claimed that he believed that he was transporting marijuana.
Diaz-Rivera pleaded guilty. Prosecutors sought a sentence of more than seven years.
U.S. District Judge Martha Vasquez sentenced Diaz-Rivera to 2½ years.