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Feb. 10, 2012

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Federal Jury Convicts Bishop Man for Heroin and Cocaine Trafficking

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – After one day of trial, a Brownsville federal jury has found a former reserve officer for the Nueces County Constables Office guilty on three drug trafficking charges, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Mercedes Perez, 54, of Bishop, Texas, was found guilty just a short time ago of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and heroin as well as possession with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin.

During trial, the U.S. presented evidence that on Oct. 29, 2011, Perez presented himself for inspection at the Gateway International Port of Entry as the driver and sole occupant of a 2002 Dodge Stratus. At primary inspection, he was questioned about his travel to Mexico at which time he claimed he owned the vehicle for five years and was visiting Mexico for a dental appointment.

A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer testified that he had received an alert on this vehicle and the car was referred to secondary inspection, at which time Perez stated he was only traveling to Matamoros for dental work and immediately handed a receipt for dental care expenses. During inspection, a K-9  alerted to the vehicle and officers subsequently discovered a total of eight bundles from both the driver and passenger side rocker panels. Of those, six contained cocaine and two contained black tar heroin. A query of this crossings into the U.S. from Mexico revealed he had crossed approximately 35 times since Aug. 11, 2010.

Perez took the stand and contended he had no knowledge of the presence of cocaine or heroin in his car. After deliberating for 30 minutes, the jury returned its verdicts on all three counts.

U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle, who presided over the trial, has set sentencing for May 14, 2012. Perez has been in custody since his arrest where he will remain pending sentencing at which time he faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison.

The case was investigated by Immigration and Customs and Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations and CBP and was prosecuted by Ana C. Cano and Jose A. Esquivel Jr.