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May 14, 2012

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Bishop Man Sentenced for Heroin and Cocaine Trafficking

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Mercedes Perez, 55, of Bishop, Texas, has been handed a 151-month federal prison sentence following his convictions for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and heroin as well as possession with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The former reserve officer for the Nueces County Constables Office was found guilty after one day of trial on Feb. 10, 2012.

Today, U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle handed Perez the nearly 13-year-term which will be followed by five years of supervised release.            

During the 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 6.66 kilograms of cocaine and two contained 2.16 kilograms of 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 at trial 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 counts.

Perez was ordered to remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

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