EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – An El Paso man has pleaded guilty in federal court to attempting to smuggle several kilos of cocaine from Mexico to Denver, Colorado.

Ramon Zubia on Tuesday entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Las Cruces, New Mexico, to one count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and one count of aiding in abetting. The charges stem from his July 5 arrest at a Border Patrol checkpoint on U.S. Highway 54 near Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Zubia allegedly tried to drive a vehicle with Mexican license plates through the checkpoint while declaring to a border agent he was on his way to Colorado in a car borrowed from a friend. Court records show the agent sent Zubia to a secondary inspection area where a Border Patrol canine sniffed drugs in a rear tire well.

The bundles found in the tire well contained 8.5 kilograms (18.7) pounds of cocaine, according to a criminal complaint. Court records show Zubia later told Drug Enforcement Administration agents he picked up the vehicle from an individual at Pocket’s Billiards bar in Juarez who offered him $800 to drive it to Denver.

Zubia allegedly told the DEA he did not have any contact information for the man who hired him and only knew him by his nickname of “Cholo.”

Zubia was facing up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine if tried and convicted on the charges. The suspect agreed to plead guilty in exchange for an unspecified reduced sentence, court records show.