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Jury convicts Mexican national on cocaine charges

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A federal jury has convicted a Mexican national of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, possession with intent to distribute, conspiracy to import, as well as importation of cocaine, announced U. S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson on Thursday. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Omar Quezada-Alcala, 35, of Matamoros, was found guilty on all four drug counts. At the trial, jurors heard testimony that on May 13, HSI special agents encountered an individual attempting to smuggle cocaine into the United States through the B&M International Bridge Port of Entry in Brownsville, Texas. After meeting with the driver of the loaded vehicle, a controlled delivery of the cocaine was attempted to identify other individuals involved in the conspiracy.

The controlled delivery was initially attempted at two different locations in Brownsville. At both locations special agents spotted individuals involved in counter-surveillance activities. Eventually, the drop off was set to occur in the K-Mart parking lot near the Sunrise Mall in Brownsville. The cooperating driver made telephone contact with an individual who said he would be picking up the car, and that individual described his clothes. Shortly afterwards, the driver met with Alcala at the mall, where the key exchange happened.

Alcala left the mall and drove around the parking lot, headed south, and then turned north to drive to the K-Mart parking lot. There, Alcala drove through the rows until he arrived at the vehicle containing the cocaine, where he was arrested by special agents.

After his arrest, Alcala initially claimed to be a mechanic working on the car, but the van he arrived in had no mechanic's tools in it. Alcala then admitted to working for individuals involved in the drug trade and admitted that he did not know what was in the car; he suspected it contained narcotics, cocaine or weapons. Alcala admitted that he was going to be paid to pick up the car and deliver it to an unknown location and that he had done it before. At the trial, Alcala took the stand and claimed that he was coming to inspect the car and perform necessary mechanic work. Alcala further denied making any statements to HSI special agents.

Alcala has been in custody since his arrest and will remain in custody pending his sentencing scheduled for May 14. Alcala faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison, a fine of up to $10 million, and up to five years of supervised release.

Assistant U. S. Attorneys Joseph Leonard and David Lindenmuth, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.