UPS employees charged with trafficking cocaine
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
McALLEN, Texas – A total of five people have been arrested on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Orlando Candelario Almanza, 49, Edinburg, and Fidencio Salinas Jr., 51, Pharr, are set to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nadia S. Medrano at 9:30 a.m. today.
Also arrested last week and who made their appearance already were Javier Enrique Mendoza, 48, Pharr, and Jose Felipe Lozano, 58, Edinburg. Enrique Bernardo Gamez, 45, Hidalgo, was previously in custody on related charges and will make his appearance in the near future.
The multi-count indictment was returned Feb. 21 and unsealed upon the arrests last week.
On multiple occasions between March 24 through Oct. 3, 2022, the indictment alleges the five individuals conspired to transport cocaine through UPS packages.
Salinas and Almanza are both allegedly UPS employees who knowingly transported the packages of cocaine. The charges allege Mendoza provided the packages of cocaine to UPS employees, while Lozano allegedly provided fraudulent labels for the packages. Gamez stored the cocaine at his residence prior to transport, according to the charges.
Law enforcement seized approximately 60 kilograms of cocaine these individuals allegedly trafficked.
If convicted, they all face up to life in prison and a possible $10 million fine.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, Hidalgo County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Garcia is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.
Updated February 27, 2023