SAN DIEGO – Eugenio Velazquez is not a typical smuggler busted for smuggling drugs on the U.S. Mexico-border.
The acclaimed architect will be sentenced Monday in San Diego for bringing nearly 13 pounds of cocaine into the U.S. in a special lane for prescreened, trusted motorists. A drug-sniffing dog alerted inspectors to five packages hidden in his minivan battery at San Diego's San Ysidro port of entry.
The 51-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Mexico had a flourishing career designing some of the Mexican border city's most prominent buildings over the last decade, including its new main cathedral, an expansion of the Tijuana Cultural Center and the police headquarters.
Velazquez says criminals threatened to kill him and hurt his family if he refused to be a drug courier.
But authorities say it's common for suspects to claim coercion.