Car battery conspiracy: three men convicted of cocaine trafficking
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Two men have pleaded guilty to conspiring to traffic cocaine across the border, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Mikeal Jovany Phillips, 35, Huffman, and Juan Andres Rodriguez-Murillo, 31, Mexico, conspired with others to smuggle narcotics into the United States by concealing the drugs inside car batteries.
On Jan. 6, Christopher Sheffield, 38, Crosby, drove a gold SUV to the Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint near Sarita. Upon inspection, authorities discovered approximately 2.8 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside the battery compartment. The battery shell contained a smaller battery to power the vehicle and three bundles of cocaine.
The investigation revealed numerous text and Facebook messages between Sheffield and Phillips discussing the trip. Subsequently, authorities learned Phillips had coordinated the trip and arranged for Sheffield to travel from the Houston area to Brownsville to retrieve the cocaine. While in Brownsville, Sheffield met Rodriguez-Murillo who then provided the cocaine-filled car battery and made the switch in the vehicle.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos will impose sentencing for Phillips and Rodriguez-Murillo Jan. 30 and Feb. 6, 2024, respectively. At that time, each man faces up to 40 years in federal prison and a possible $5 million maximum fine.
Phillips and Rodriguez-Murillo have been and will remain in custody pending sentencing.
Sheffield previously pleaded guilty and is also pending sentencing.
The Drug Enforcement Administration and Border Patrol conducted the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Martin is prosecuting the case.
Updated November 1, 2023