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Feb. 9, 2012

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Jury Convicts Matamoros Man on Cocaine Charges

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - A Brownsville federal jury has convicted Omar Quezada-Alcala, 35, of Matamoros, Mexico, on all four counts charged against him, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The returned its guilty verdicts late yesterday after only an hour of deliberation.

At the trial, jurors heard testimony that on May 13, 2011, Immigration & Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) agents encountered an individual attempting to smuggle cocaine into the United States through the B&M International Bridge Port of Entry in Brownsville, Texas. After meeting with the driver of the loaded vehicle, agents decided to attempt a controlled delivery of the cocaine in order to identify other individuals involved in the conspiracy. 

The controlled delivery was initially attempted at two different locations in Brownsville and, at those locations, agents spotted individuals involved in counter-surveillance activities. Eventually, the drop off was set to occur in the K-Mart parking lot near the Sunrise Mall in Brownsville. The cooperating driver made telephone contact with an individual who said he would be picking up the car and that individual described his clothes. Shortly afterwards, the driver met with Quezada-Alcala at the mall, where the key exchange happened. From there, Quezada left the mall and drove around the parking lot, headed south and then turned north to drive to the K-Mart parking lot. There, Quezada drove through the rows until he arrived at the vehicle containing the cocaine and eventually walked to the loaded car, at which time he was arrested by agents.

After his arrest, Quezada initially claimed to be a mechanic working on the car, but the van he arrived in had no mechanic’s tools in it. Quezada then admitted to working for individuals involved in the drug trade and admitted that, while he did not know what was in the car, he suspected it contained narcotics, cocaine or weapons. Quezada admitted that he was going to be paid to pick up the car and deliver it to an unknown location and that he had done it before. At the trial, Quezada took the stand and claimed that he was coming to inspect the car and perform necessary mechanic work. Quezada further denied making any statements to ICE-HSI agents.

The jury found him guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, possession with intent to distribute, conspiracy to import as well as importation of cocaine.

Quezada has been in custody since his arrest and will remain in custody pending his sentencing scheduled for May 14, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen who presided over the trial. Quezada faces a minimum of 10 years imprisonment and up to life, a fine of up to $10 million and up to five years of supervised release. 

This case was investigated by ICE-HSI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph Leonard and David Lindenmuth.