Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Possessing Over Thirty Kilograms of Cocaine
Gulfport, Miss. – Mario Guadalupe Pecina, age 44, of San Antonio, Texas, pled guilty today before U.S. District U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola, Jr. to possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, Thomas Annello, Acting Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations in New Orleans, and Joseph A. Banco Jr., Acting Chief Patrol Agent of the U.S. Border Patrol’s New Orleans Sector.
On January 11, 2018, a United States Border Patrol officer stopped Pecina for committing a traffic violation while traveling on Interstate 10 in Harrison County, Mississippi. During the stop, the officer learned that Pecina was previously arrested for smuggling cocaine in 2009. While speaking with the officer, Pecina began displaying signs of nervous behavior. Pecina consented to a search of the vehicle, and upon searching, the officer located 31 packages of cocaine concealed within the door and rear hatch panels of the vehicle.
Pecina will be sentenced on August 16, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. by U.S. District U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Border Patrol. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathlyn R. Van Buskirk.