Valley jury convicts Cuban man who fled drug smuggling charges

      A Cuban who fled Texas in 2003 following his drug-smuggling arrest then turned up last fall bound in a vehicle faces up to 40 years in prison.

      Prosecutors in McAllen on Tuesday announced 45-year-old Alexis Estevez-Alvarez of Havana has been convicted of possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

      A federal jury also found Estevez-Alvarez guilty of failure to appear.

      Investigators in June 2003 discovered nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana in a shed near the suspect's home in Mercedes. Estevez-Alvarez was free on bond when he disappeared.

      Estevez-Alvarez last October was found restrained and inebriated in the bed of a pickup truck at the Progreso Port of Entry.

      Investigators say someone drove Estevez-Alvarez into Texas, then returned to Mexico. Prosecutors didn't immediately provide additional details.

      Estevez-Alvarez remains in custody pending sentencing.