Ybarra to serve 25 years for drug charge
By LPR Staff
A Lockhart man was sentenced to 25 years behind bars on Tuesday after officers presented testimony that he was found in possession of one of the largest amounts of contraband seized in local drug enforcement history.
Earlier this year, Arsemio “Sam” Ybarra pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance after a
n arrest and subsequent search of his home led police to nearly a pound of uncut cocaine stored in a bag in the home’s kitchen. Although Ybarra was not charged with trafficking or intent to deliver the drugs, other items found in the home, including a digital scale and several small baggies, suggest the drugs were not for personal use, narcotics officers testified.
“Based on [tests run on the drugs when they were seized], the cocaine had not been cut,” said Don Perry, an officer with the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department who has more than 40 years experience in narcotics enforcement. “Dealers cut the drugs with ‘cutting agents’ to decrease the purity and increase the amount, getting more return on their investment and more product for their dollar.”
Perry said the raw value of the drugs was around $42,000 and that after cutting, the cocaine found in the home could have fetched up to $168,000 on the street.
Neither Perry nor Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department Captain and commander of the Chisholm Trail Narcotics Task Force Jesse Hernandez can recall a bust in Caldwell County that yielded a larger amount of cocaine.
“This is a large amount for Caldwell County,” Hernandez testified. “We may have some people in the jail that have been arrested with a kilo or more, but I believe those were federal charges, and I think locally, this is largest amount we’ve taken in since I’ve been here.”
Hernandez has been involved in drug enforcement in Caldwell County for 15 years.
A pre-sentencing report from Caldwell County Community Supervision and Corrections (probation) Department suggested based on his prior behavior and glowing letters of support, Ybarra should be sentenced to “shock probation.” Under a shock probation, Ybarra would have had the opportunity to serve as little as 180 days in prison before filing a motion for release and completing the remainder of his sentence on probation. Shock only applies to certain offenses, and is used when the judge believes the offender would not benefit from additional time in jail.
Ybarra’s attorney asked District Judge Todd Blomerth to consider a probation term, citing not only the letters, but the fact that Ybarra had “fallen on hard times, and turned to selling drugs to get by,” an idea that First Assistant District Attorney Josh Erwin called “laughable.”
“The pre-sentencing report says he was ‘just holding it’ and that just doesn’t make sense,” Erwin said. “The letter indicates that he just fell on hard times, but to reward him for turning to criminal behavior in hard times is a slap in the face to the people of this community.”
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Ybarra was eligible for a maximum sentence of 25 years. As a condition of that agreement, Ybarra waived his right to appeal Blomerth’s decision on sentencing.
Based on the testimony presented Tuesday morning, Blomerth decided to impose the maximum sentence, a decision which seemed to shock and anger Ybarra, who immediately said he wanted to appeal the decision citing among other things, ineffective assistance from his attorney.
Blomerth said he would not appoint an appellate attorney to review Ybarra’s case because he had waived his right to appeal under the plea agreement.
Although Ybarra may serve his entire sentence, it is possible he could be eligible for parole in as few as five years.