Five Charged in Texas Border UPS Drug Distribution Operation

 Near the Texas-Mexico border, five people have been arrested on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani identified the individuals as Orlando Candelario Almanza, 49, of Edinburg, TX and Fidencio Salinas Jr., 51, of Pharr, TX made their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nadia S. Medrano on Tuesday, February 28, 2023.

Also arrested the prior week were Javier Enrique Mendoza, 48, of Pharr, and Jose Felipe Lozano, 58, Edinburg, TX.

Enrique Bernardo Gamez, 45, of 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.



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