Houston Man Given Life After Eighth Conviction For DUI

Cornelio Garcia-Mata, 45, has the rare distinction of being sentenced to life in prison for drunk driving. Garcia-Mata has been arrested eight times for drunk driving and has been sentenced as a repeat offender to spend the rest of his days in prison.

Garcia-Mata’s final DUI showed him with a blood alcohol level that was nearly 6 times the legal limit — the equivalent to consuming 23.5 beers. That was number eight for Garcia-Mata. His first came in 1990 and his second came while he was on probation for the first.

The video below shows the arrest from the dashcam on the police cruiser. On the film, Garcia-Mata insists “I’m not drinking.”

The jury returned the life sentence.

What I fail to understand is why Garcia-Mata still had a license. In 2008, Garcia-Mata served only two years on a six year sentence and clearly was able to eventually get a license. Shouldn’t that be the first step before the life sentence? This is akin to letting a person who drives on the sidewalk around a bus to resume driving so long as she wears a humiliating sign for a couple of days. I am astonished that Garcia-Mata was allowed to drive at all. None of the stories suggest that he is driving without a license.

Source: CBS

70 thoughts on “Houston Man Given Life After Eighth Conviction For DUI

  1. It is not clear from the story if he even had a driver’s license. Not having a driver’s license does not stop people like Mr. Garcia-Mata. It is an epidemic problem. No license and no insurance, but they get caught with blood alcohol levels so high it is almost incompatible with life. I hate to think what kind of condition his liver is in.

  2. You don’t need a license to drive…… But that is a different story….. This man needs a wake up call….. People do not understand how easy it s to get contraband in prison…… This is in my opinion a waste of tax payer resources….. He needs rehabilitation……

  3. I can’t think of any rehab program that will effectively insure that this man doesn’t continue to endanger the lives of others. Yes, he’ll undoubtedly be able to get alcohol or other drugs in prison, but he will not be able to kill an innocent family out for a drive.

    Zero sympathy.

  4. The comments to the CBS article are telling.

    Call me TC • 20 hours ago
    -People like this are how the Democrats won the election.

    Joe Dutra to Call me TC • 16 hours ago
    −Returning from an Obama victory party!


    What’s the magic number, Mel?

    Should this guy be in prison for life — a “retired” associate judge, with 3 drunk-driving convictions and at least a couple of parole violations (one in 2011, after the following article)?:

    “Parole revoked for former Muscatine judge”


    “James Andrew Weaver, 56, was arrested Nov. 23, just three days after he was released on parole on a third-offense drunken-driving conviction. He was accused of violating his parole by drinking and of harassing his wife…

    At a hearing Thursday morning, the judge said he was tempted to send Weaver back to prison because the offenses occurred so soon after his release. But the judge instead ordered that Weaver serve four months on work release.”

  5. My question is this. Was there ever a real injury? If not then the basis of the entire debacle is a “could been, would been” .Getting life imprisonment for behavior that coulda caused an injury is draconian

  6. My cousin was murdered at 2 in the afternoon, by a drunk driver who was celebrating his release from prison that morning for his last drunk driving murder. Please do not ask for sympathy.

    We can talk about treatment all you like but we as a society are unwilling to pay for that. So what other options are there? It has only been the last few years (less than 6 here I believe) that multiple DUIs led to actual jail time. It is getting better and as DUI is becoming less socially acceptable it will improve even more. If this sentence convinces some potential murderers to not get behind the wheel it will have done more good than we can imagine.

  7. “You can’t fix stupid”

    Instead of this being a comedians signature punchline, we can erect a national monument with this phrased etched in stone.

    Please please don’t put it in Washington DC. The politicians will use it as their strategy to maintain control over the public. OOPs…too late.

  8. Many of the people I would be assigned for surveillance were of this man’s ilk. As OS said, he almost certainly didn’t have a license. In my background checks prior to surveillance I would check driving history w/ DMV and the subject had no license. So, I have followed people I knew had no DL hundreds of times. I would read the court records involving numerous DUI’s w/ continued slaps on the wrist. And, these subjects sans license don’t drive cautiously!

    Wisconsin, where I reside, has an alcoholic culture. The newspapers ROUTINELY publish articles of people like this man. I’ve seen double digit DUI’s many times. Some folks say we should emulate Europe. My thoughts are there are many aspects of European culture I don’t believe are worthy of emulation. However, on this topic, I say YES.

  9. I know he did not kill anyone (thankfully) but I have always wondered why when someone kills while drunk, or drugged) they do not consider it premeditated murder. They know darn well, no matter how out of control their addiction may be, that getting behind the wheel may well take a life.

  10. I think an eight time loser should be either in a locked down treatment facility or prison. However, I am not sure about the life imprisonment sentence. People who have killed already, can get less than life.

  11. You people are missing the point….. the point of his punishment is to get him off the road before he kills innocent people…. His life is not the important topic here….

  12. Since when does arresting solve anything? Jails solving problems is like trying to go forward with the car stuck in reverse. With him like many others I sugjest this. http://www.upcspine.com or upper cervical health centers. The reason he drinks is a lot more than you think. Mercy is what he needs not punishment.

  13. I guess it’s ok to lock up sick people for what they might do. Much like preemptively invading countries and indefinite detention without being charged with a crime.

    He needs to be off the roads but in a rehab facility not a jail. Life in jail for what he might do? Scary.

  14. I would opin his licenses was revoked anyway, and maybe that was not mentioned in the news ad. However, Otteray is correct in that not having a license does not stop these drunks from driving as often as one would hope.

    A few observations. The defendant blew a .446 BAC. That is an astronomically high level, one that comes around probably every decade or more in most jurisdictions. The highest I ever had out of hundreds of arrests I made was a .315 and it was one of only 2 in the .3 range. Moreover a person that can walk as he does, albeit badly, or even be conscious or alive is just as rare. This man is a very dangerous drunk. In fact, he had served prison time for Felony DUI before.

    I understand that some would initially have concern that this type of crime was excessively punished since nobody was injured. I would offer this for consideration. A 3500 pound vehicle dring 60 mph is lethal. When it is only partially under control and drives long enough it will crash eventually. The goal is to prevent people from dying at the hands of these drunks. They are just as dangerous as someone randomly firing a gun across a highway. Eventually, someone will get injured or killed.

    And yes, it is a bit unfair that someone who murders someone gets sometimes 7 years and this man received a life sentence. But I am not going to object to this man going away for what he deserved. Nor would I object to anyone else being convicted of 1st or 2nd degree murder receiving life either.

  15. bettykath, If a person continually fired a handgun into a schoolyard but never hit a kid, you would say lock him up. This is no different.

  16. I dont thik this is for what he might do, it is for what he has repeatedly done. I wonder what the sentence would be if not ‘life’ under the circumstances of his arrest. He has not learned anything and rehab is obviously of no benefit to this man, whether he has gone to no avail or whether he refuses to go.

  17. This is one of the rare times where “three strikes” laws (or in this case, eight) make sense. Garcia-Mata is too arrogant and/or too stupid to learn. He would have eventually killed someone or some people. Maybe he already has killed someone in a hit-and-run, but no one connected him to it yet.

    I’d go further than just suspending licenses. I say confiscate and crush their cars. And if the drunk hasn’t finished paying for it, that’s his/her problem.

    A common response to that is, “You’re depriving people of their livelihood, sentencing the family to poverty!” Oh? Do murderers get to avoid prison because their families will be sent into poverty, depriving them of their breadwinner?

    Driving is a privilege, an ability. It’s not a right, and should be taken away from those who can’t and won’t drive safely.

  18. Another thing. It is clear this man would do it again if released tomorrow. Why should people in the public arena have to die because there are those who cling to the idea he will be rehabilitated? What is so special about this man’s condition that the public should have to risk injury or death on the remote possibility he will change? In the case of this man, society is better and safer for him to be in prison. As the prosecutor in the video stated, he had every opportunity to not get behind the wheel of a car and he chose to put everyone on the road in danger. it is no different as I said than someone shooting across a highway, his alcoholism is not illegal, it is choosing to drive and risk killing others that is.

    Another related issue. WA dropped its minor DUI presumptive rate to .02 from .08 many years ago. In other words anyone under 21 years in age cannot drive with more than a .02 BAC. Prior to this, I would roughly estimate the number of persons under 21 who were caught DUI was around 20% of all ages arrested. A few years afterward it became very rare to arrest a minor. I usually only had 1 every six months and I typically arrested or assisted in arrest of 3 to 5 every week. That change along with not prosecuting minors who were drinking in their own residences, taking away the need to drive to remote areas, dropped juvenile drunks to the lowest levels in memory.

    I firmly believe making the second DUI a felony would deter a considerable amount of drunk drivers. However there is a serious drawback in doing this. In most states the first or a few DUI convictions is a misdemeanor of some kind (a gross misdemeanor in WA) An arrest for DUI in some states, ours especially, is a very drawn out ordeal with the process. Admittedly, most officers do not like doing DUI enforcement because it is so time consuming and because a lot of non-criminal ordinary people are involved it very often than not results in a protracted legal process and a lot of court time because people fight the system so ardently no matter what the cost is to them financially in order to not have the DUI and license suspension.

    A DUI arrest often takes 3 1/2 hours from pull over to the completion of booking and the paperwork. A good DUI officer can do it in 2 1/2. This is largely due to the excessive amounts of procedure and paperwork due to all the case law and administrative procedures that resulted from this. Making a felony out of the second convition would make people fight the case even more and it could jam up the Criminal Justice system. How long that would last I don’t know but it is probably what was considered by the legislature when they made it the 5th instead of the 2nd.

  19. I don’t see stupidity or arrogance, I see a very sick person.

    I’m not about to give a tutorial on alcoholism, but some here need it. I agree that the man needs to be off the road, permanently, but to go to prison for being very ill doesn’t work for me.

  20. bettykath, Then how do you keep him off the road sans prison? If sending him to a max security rehab facility makes you feel better than I could abide that. But, THERE IS NO WAY you keep folks like this from getting behind a wheel w/o taking them out of our society. Many of the people in prison are “sick” and they belong there. Our legal system is based upon competency and knowing right from wrong, not “sickness.”

  21. Corrections Corporation of America sends a shout out to MADD woman
    “Sarah Palin” and the upstanding citizens of Comal county for their help in
    securing the acquisition of another lifetime customer.

  22. i have driven under the influence of alcohol THOUSANDS of times, as have hundreds of people I know. Being 61, I remember when you could go to a drive through and get a scotch and water or a gin and tonic to go in a “go-cup”, complete with ice and a stirrer. If an officer deciphered that you were drunk in those days, odds are he would provide you with a ride home, or to a place where you could get a ride home – Including the local bar. Half the time you would see the police there after hours, having a few toddies before they drove home to their families. They still had ashtrays at every seat in airplanes in those days as well. To make a long story short, it took quite a while before I understood that times had changed, and that drinking and driving was to be considered wrong. I have had seven DUI arrests, and five convictions, the first occurred in 1975, my last one occurring in 1997. They were all treated as second offenses, having a time period in between over ten years, or due to some other technicality. The first offense was penalized by a six month loss of license, the subsequent offenses were punished with some type of treatment as well as a two year loss of license. A serious pain. As I stated at the beginning, I drove THOUSANDS of times, driving very carefully when drinking, being exceptionally cautious. I was never in a single accident causing anyone harm.

    I submit that if everyone who has driven under the influence eight times was incarcerated for life in prison, we would fill the jails over ten times. This in a nation leading the entire world in the percentage of incarcerated citizens. The compulsion to punish others for crimes that we ourselves commit is morally bankrupt. I can’t tell you how many attorneys, mayors, governors, policemen, judges, and yes, even senators, that i have snorted cocaine or heroin with. The “war on drugs”, and this war on alcohol abuse, is insane. And absolutely on the by and by, I rarely drink anymore, and I haven’t partaken an illicit drug in over twenty years. I simply lost my taste for it. And i have seen it harm too many people. We need not add to that harm.

    If this man caused no injury, he should be released immediately. Get this man out of jail and into a treatment program. Period.

  23. Jeri:

    I suppose personal responsibility and the lives of others is not important to you. Of your reckless abandon of even the idea of safe driving, would you be as equally proud of yourself if you had injured or killed someone? Or would you just say “I drove thousands of times drunk and only killed two people”

    I don’t care how much you claim as being an expert in driving after you have impaired your abilities, your ability is impaired just as much as driving without headlights on at night your driving is affected. Neither of which is safe but your self delusion of driving drunk and being able to handle as well as you would be sober would be laughable if it was not replete with such contempt for the lives and safety of others.

    You are not redeeming yourself here by declaring you simply chose later in life to not drink and drug and that somehow that would vindicate you of your proclaimed acts that could have killed others.

    I ask you again, why would you even risk some else’s safety by boozing yourself drunk and driving thousands of times or even being so arrogant to encourage others to do so by declaring their immunity from fate by following your example?

    I might suggest walking up to a woman who lost her daughter to a drunk driver and brag about your escapades. Make sure you have the attention of everyone else in the area as well. I’m sure you will find they take exception to your position.

    Moreover, if you are arrested for DUI please make a point of telling the judge about the thousands of times you have driven drunk and the coke you snorted with other judges and tell him/her how it doesn’t matter what he does you will do whatever you wish. It would be glorious to see you in your finest moment while you stare with steadfast arrogance into the ensuing tornado you think you can spit at.

  24. Jeri: Amen. Darren Smith: you are completely wrong. You do not sentence a person for something that they did not do. You sentence a person for what he did. You must have missed the cinematic treatment of one of Philip K. Dick’s masterpieces “Minority Report.” Darren, free yourself from the matrix and join us. Over and out.

  25. I’d like to point out something here about DUI laws. They don’t just deter and punish those who would engage in such stupid, negligent and reckless disregard for the safety of others. They provide a surer easier cause of action for civil actions against drunk drivers from the survivors of their lil’ escapades.

    F=ma. Add alcohol for a recipe for disaster.

    I don’t have any sympathy for drunk drivers in the slightest. It’s inherently dangerous, arrogant and stupid. If it could be arranged so that a drunk driver is only a risk to themselves or could wreck and kill no one but themselves? I’d say “Your choice.” But that’s not how physics works. I don’t care how many drunk drivers kill themselves. It’s the other people minding their own business and dying because some jackass had to have the last four martini or fourteen beers that I’m worried about.

  26. darren, please know that i am not proud of driving impaired, and i would not do so now. i never bragged; i simply stated fact from a perspective that possibly you will never understand. you do not know how common it was to drink and drive. or drug. it was not only accepted, it was expected. of course it is stupid and careless. i would never encourage anyone to follow that path. however, sentencing a man to life in prison is not just either. particularly if there has been no harm actually done. i repeat, if everyone who has gotten behind the wheel impaired eight times were imprisoned the prisons would overflow ten times over. this isn’t justice. this is self hate.

  27. Jeri Hughes I agree. The character of Jesus is not in the legal system. I suggest U,C,S, Chiropractic practitioners that are on a list on http://www.upcspine or on upper cervical health centers./ put in your zip code. Infants on up should use this care. it can even help people get over addictions too.

  28. Richard Faust said:

    “Darren Smith: you are completely wrong. You do not sentence a person for something that they did not do.”

    No, actually, we do.

    Is it not a Class D Felony to threaten the President of the U.S verbally from 2,000 miles away? I think you’ll find that it is. And that’s merely opening your mouth & yammering.


    What about a doctor who was caught in a sex-sting operation, when in fact he never even touched the underage girl?


    Ever heard of Saajid Muhammad Badat? He was jailed in 2005 after he admitted to planning to explode a shoe bomb on an airliner. Badat had actually changed his mind, and even dismantled his bomb and left it at his house. His sentence? 12 years.

    Which brings us to driving drunk while pretending to control a 2,000 lb bullet in public. Some of us have actually waded into drunk-induced freeway carnage a hundred times over. And there comes a tipping point – generally after you’ve seen the destroyed faces of a few dead kids – when you grow weary of the whiny argument for a sociopath’s right to freedom.

    So I submit any judge – or jury – who allows a repeat offender to walk out of the courtroom to roll the dice again – with YOUR kids in the oncoming lane – should be held legally liable for a predictable calamity.

    Anybody who repeatedly, recklessly endangers families? I submit he has forfeited “right” keep playing Russian Roulette with other people’s lives.

    Which – come to think of it – is also illegal, even when the gun doesn’t go off.

    Why would that be?

  29. What PatricParamedic said. I don’t think anyone could have put it any better. And for those who rationalize about the problem, let me remind you that denial is not a river in Egypt.

  30. Darren, thank you for saying what I could not decide how to say.
    Jeri, your reciting your history is sad. You, and the people who were in your path, were inordinately lucky that nothing happened, or at least, one might say, anything that you remember, given that you were drunk/drugged.

  31. Jeri,

    Are you an alterego to Hunter S Thompson? Welcome anyway. Nunter reported from the ’72 campaign, that Humphrey was on max uppers working an 18 hour schedule. Muskie was on a substance from Africa called Ibugaine. Top people and drugs? Wow!

    There are differences between lawyers and preachers, but at times one wonders.

    As for your case, well we license 18 year olds although they are much more likely to be involved in serious accidents than older drivers—–do we not?

    We put alcohol as a profit maker in our society. Then the profit makers and consumers should pay for collateral damage, of all kinds.

    Hw will they recompense for deaths, be it domestic violence or on the road?

  32. i believe what this all breaks down to is poor judgment. it is well understood in this decade that driving while impaired is dangerous, and as such the offense is criminalized and punished by law. however, if one has a glass of wine with dinner, is one actually impaired? and what if it is two glasses, and it is over a period of two hours? and if one has a cognac after dinner? in many cases of DUI, the individual does not actually FEEL impaired, even though they may very well be. this individual has no intent to endanger anyone. they have no intent to harm anyone. or perhaps they are heavy drinkers. they realize they are intoxicated, but FEEL that they are more than capable of a safe drive home. perhaps their feelings are innaccurate, fueled by their own intoxication. in all cases, we have poor judgment but in no circumstance do we have a conscious intent to do harm. this is a radical difference than someone pointing a gun that misfires, or a traveller with a shoe bomb, or a child predator texting an adult, or a threat to a president. it is a mistake, an accident, a lapse in judgment. it can be equally dangerous to get behind the wheel if you are in a state of anger. or sleepy. or while you are eating your micket d’s. texting. answering your cell phone. daydreaming. or just thinking about problems at your job. society has deemed it appropriate to punish those who drink and drive. i wholly accept that, even though it took me a long time to do so. but this is not about me. justice is supposed to be appropriate to an offense. the individual in question should be punished. depending on the severity of the damage that he or she might be responsible for, the punishment should be appropriate. a life sentence SOLELY for being addicted, or stupid, or just hard headed is not appropriate, and never will be. we have to temper our judgment with compassion. we are all capable of making mistakes. each and every one of us. let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.

  33. Jeri Hughes, when I was a child, I thought the red burners on the stove were so attractive that I reached out and touched one. I never did that again. I learned my lesson. About 25 years ago, while still in nursing school, I had a really bad week, went to my local watering hole, and had a few more than I should. I was pulled over on my way home and charged with DUI, which entailed a 24hr stay in ‘Tent City’ (first offence), and about 1500.00 in fees and substance abuse classes. It was not the first time I had driven while incapacitated, but you can be sure it was the LAST time I did. Later, as a nurse in the County hospital ER, I can truthfully say that never once did I have to treat a patient involved in a horrific accident that there wasn’t alcohol on the breath of at least ONE of the survivors of said accident.

    Having said that, I DO have a problem with sentencing someone to life for what he/she MIGHT do. Had this man been sentenced to life for doing this once or twice, I would agree that life would be too harsh. However, this was the EIGHTH time. This was the EIGHTH time he was CAUGHT. How many times had he done the exact same thing and NOT been caught? Perhaps being sentenced to an asylum of some sort with release contingant on his being alcohol free might be a possible answer, but if this is the eighth incident, I doubt that would work.

    PatricParamedic; the incidents you cite are interesting. However, that doesn’t make them just or right.

  34. Jeri, thos man has not ‘learned his lesson” and therefore giving him more chances is folly. If he had treatment it did not take and it appears he just doesn;t give a darn.
    What ifs you gave? Notice now there are commercials on TV warning that “buzzed driving” i.e. feeling good but not truly intoxicated is drunk driving.
    People know that having alcohol in their system impairs their driving, Your what if’s seem silly to me. The answer is easy, you know when you are buzzed. You know if you have, I don;t drink so I don;t know how wine for instance effects you, say 3 glasses of win in 2 hours you will be impaired.
    This is not an issue of the first time of touching the burner., to use Kraaken’s analogy. This man refuses to learn. He is paying for touching the burner again and again. The life sentence may be draconian and I do have problems with the stop me before I kill but he has shown he does not care if he kills and maims and jail is the only answer at this point.
    I would be surprised if the sentence for life will stand, assuming there will be an appeal.

  35. Wait, how come such a high alcohol content is not DWI? DUI is a lesser charge; isn’t it?

    His license should have been gone after violation #3, right? The whole thing is bizarre. Not enough take-away-license, too much go-to-jail.

  36. Normal people don’t drink and drive in Sweden. We are apparently influenced by campaigns here.
    It limits life, but we survive.

    Holier than thou, naw, just I can’t hold my booze and don’t overindulge after youthful indiscretions.

  37. Jonathan Hughes,

    How many times must I say this? My “soul” is none of your damn business. It’s not the business of government or anyone else for that matter.

  38. Malisha wrote:

    “Wait, how come such a high alcohol content is not DWI? DUI is a lesser charge; isn’t it?”
    DUI or DWI is just a matter of the name. Probably most states use DUI while others, such as Texas use DWI. Driving Under the Influence vs Driving While Intoxicated. DUI seems to have become more commonly used over the years. DUI in my view typically is better from a legal standpoint as it defines the influence of the substance more clearly which is more or less at the heart of the law.

  39. raff,

    I didn’t say an angel to how many, but grandma counts for at least one.😀

    Aww, who am I kidding!

    My grandmother knew exactly what kind of lil’ devil I could be.

  40. Gene H: You will know where your soul is heading according to what you give. Give good, and you will not gnashing your teeth in unspeakable agony unparallelled by any know agony known to man, seeing what you threw away just before being obliterated into nothingness. Refusing to do the good works Jesus would do is asking for what I just described.

  41. God who made all that people use, see, hear, touch, smell, and eat will determine who gets what.

    Romans 14 >>

    King James Version 10But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

    11For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

    12So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

  42. Gene H.: I see a good spirit in you with bad people calling you a devil. Good people will call the spirit in you good even if they know the sex you do is different in name to what they do. They will not call you evil not saying you are naughtily even if seen nude. Devils will say naked is naughty.. The people that drink irresponsibly don’t think of others or themselves. To get them to think of themselves would help them to think of others. That will prepare them for eternity.The right words are not being spoken to them. The care on upcspine, and upper cervical heath centers can help too, all ages..

  43. Jonathan:

    This also is written in the King James version of the Bible, and is also ascribed to Jesus:

    “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward” (1 Peter 2:18). “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ” (Ephesians 6:5).

    Now with no sarcasm at all, I repeat the same question I asked you 8 months ago:

    Is this the same Jesus you refer to, or some other one?

  44. Jesus is the servant of all of us.Don;t forget this verse OH ye that takes verses out of context. That is constant with accusers. 9And, ye masters, do the same things unto them.This means we are to serve each other. with the Lord in us that serves all. You see that verse even as the devil see it. Get thee behind me Satan!

  45. Jonathan said:

    “You have the verses severely lopsided, and contorted beyond recognition of what the lord wanted to teach.”

    No, Jonathan. The verses are quoted word for word.

    The contortions are not my doing. It is quotes such as the above, which cause millions of thinking humans to doubt such lines would ever be spoken by the son of the Creator.

    If you personally choose to believe that the Messiah could have walked the entire earth but didn’t; while giving a wink & a nod to the monstrous ugliness of slavery, then that is your choice.

    But preaching such inanity to the prescient contributors to this site is likely a frangible exercise.

  46. This man will now cost Texas taxpayers $748650.00 for his prison stay. I say we send him to Mexico and revoke his entry back into the US.

  47. There is nothing in any of the articles I read related to this incident that indicate Cornelio Garcia-Mata is anything other than a U.S. citizen or here legally.

  48. Law abiding people and those in law enforcement find it discouraging to see so many criminals who commit serious crimes and then to have them pled down with a slap on the wrist.

    It’s nice to see that someone is stepping up to try to make sure justice is served up!



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