Houston Jury Returns Guilty Verdict in 1,900 Pound Marijuana Seizure
|March 1, 2012|
HOUSTON – A federal jury sitting in Houston has found Joselito Flores Mercado, 49, guilty of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute in connection with a seizure of more than 1,900 pounds of marijuana, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The jury returned its verdict in less than three hours following a three-day trial.
Mercado, of Houston, was indicted in 2011 along with Jose Alberto DeLeon, 34, of Mexico, for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana and aiding and abetting possession with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. DeLeon, who testified as a witness for the United States in the case against Mercado, is scheduled to proceed to trial next week. He is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.
During the trial, the jury heard testimony that on the morning of April 19, 2011, agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) were conducting surveillance on a business operated by Mercado in West Houston and witnessed two crates being delivered to the business. Later that afternoon, agents followed first DeLeon and then Mercado as they left the business. The testimony indicated DeLeon admitted to seeing a large amount of marijuana in Mercado’s business and that Mercado stated he had received two crates earlier in the day, but he did not know what was in them. Testimony further revealed that Mercado paid DeLeon $400 as a day laborer for his assistance in opening the crates and removing the marijuana from them. Returning with agents to his business, Mercado later admitted the crates had contained marijuana after agents recovered 91 separately wrapped bales of marijuana, weighing 1,915 pounds, from the business.
At trial, Mercado took the stand in his own defense and testified he acted under duress when he accepted delivery of the marijuana. However, under cross examination, Mercado admitted he never revealed the existence of these alleged threats to any law enforcement officers or agencies.
Previously released on bond, Mercado was taken into custody following the return of the verdict where he will remain pending his sentencing hearing set for June 8, 2012.
The case was investigated by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, DEA, Texas Department of Public Safety and Harris County Sheriff’s Office and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Rick Hanes and Ted Imperato.