Two UPS workers in South Texas were recently charged in connection with an alleged plot to traffic cocaine through the mail.
On February 21, 2023, a grand jury indicted Orlando Candelario Almanza, 49, Fidencio Salinas Jr., 51, and three others on charges of a conspiracy to knowingly traffic cocaine through UPS packages between March 24 and October 3, 2022, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.
The two UPS employees had their initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nadia S. Medrano on Monday morning. In total, five people were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, according to U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
The others accused included Javier Enrique Mendoza, 48, and Jose Felipe Lozano, 58, who both appeared before Judge Medrano last week. Enrique Bernardo Gamez, 45, has been in custody on related charges and will make his initial appearance sometime in the near future, according to the news statement.
If convicted, each member of the group could face “life in prison and a possible $10 million fine.”
A joint investigation by law enforcement agencies resulted in allegations that Mendoza would supply the packages of cocaine to UPS employees, Lozano would handle the fraudulent packaging labels, and Gamez would store the cocaine at his residence prior to transport, according to the charges announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas.
In total, law enforcement seized approximately 60 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated street value of roughly $1.74 million, according to 2019 drug price data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
“We are aware of the incident involving two UPS employees, and we’re cooperating with the investigation,” reads a statement from UPS to Fox Business. “As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to make additional comments at this time, but instead defer to investigating authorities.”
The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Hidalgo County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Garcia will be prosecuting the case.