A Pope County man who has spent just short of two years in federal custody on pre-trial detention was ordered freed Thursday after Chief U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. ordered him sentenced to time served and three years supervised release.
Luis Eduardo Alvidrez, 30, of Russellville, pleaded guilty last November to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm as part of a plea bargain in exchange for the U.S. attorney's office agreeing to dismiss a drug conspiracy count included in an indictment handed up by a federal grand jury in July 2019.
Alvidrez's co-defendant, Enrique Perez-Rios, was sentenced in March to 4.5 years in prison for his part in transporting over 3 pounds of methamphetamine from Dallas before Rios was stopped on the way to Russellville by a Benton police officer who discovered the drugs stashed in a cooler.
According to court records, Rios was stopped for speeding on Interstate 30 just before noon on June 27, 2019, and a search of the vehicle turned up eight bundles of methamphetamine concealed inside the insulation panels of the cooler. After learning the intended destination of the drugs, law enforcement officers drove Rios' silver Lexus to an exit off Interstate 40 at Atkins. Rios texted his contact that he had broken down.
A short time later, Alvidrez parked his pickup behind Rios' car and transferred the cooler to his truck, at which time police pulled up and began questioning him, according to court records. A search of Alvidrez's truck turned up a loaded semi-automatic pistol, which was confiscated along with the drugs.
Because of a previous felony conviction in Pope County in 2010, the records said, Alvidrez was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
After resolving an objection to Alvidrez's pre-sentence report, Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Peters and defense attorney John Wesley Hall Jr. of Little Rock agreed to recommend a downward variance from the sentencing guidelines' recommendation of 24-30 months in federal prison to the 680 days he has spent in federal custody since his arrest with an additional three years supervised release.
Hall said that during his pre-trial incarceration, Alvidrez had shown an active interest in the progression of his case, at times even tag-teaming the conversations with another pre-trial detainee that Hall said he is also representing.
"He called me, literally, six times in April probably, because I was communicating either with him or with his cellmate," Hall said. "He was always engaged with what was going on... and he has learned from this experience... I don't think the government will see him again."
Peters told Marshall that had Alvidrez been in jail the past 23 months after a conviction, he would likely have been released by now for good behavior. Although the federal system does not allow for parole, convicted inmates who maintain a record of good behavior can have as much as 15% taken off their sentences.
"Given that the range is 24 to 30 months... had this defendant been able to earn good time, he actually would have served somewhere in the middle of there and then gotten a reduction," Peters said. "Our request at this time is for time served because that is so close to the low end of the guideline range."
When asked if he wished to speak, Alvidrez apologized to Marshall and to his family, three of whom were sitting in the courtroom.
"I promise to stay away from breaking any laws and coming back to this court," he said. "Just let me get back to my family and my life and thank you for everything."