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October 9, 2014McAllen, TXUnited StatesNarcotics

South Texas man arrested for using a federal government vehicle to transport cocaine

MCALLEN, Texas — A south Texas man, who was working as a contractor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), was arrested and charged Friday with possessing nine kilograms of cocaine while transporting it in a government vehicle.

These charges were announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), USDA and the McAllen Police Department.

Mario Guadalupe Saenz, 27, of McAllen, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos Oct. 10 where he was formally charged. He was also charged with unlawfully possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

According to the criminal complaint, on Oct. 9 Saenz was observed driving a white Dodge Ram with U.S. government license plates registered to the USDA. Saenz allegedly drove the USDA-owned vehicle through an opening in the border fence and retrieved a bag from the brush near the Rio Grande River in Hidalgo County. The complaint further alleges he used the government vehicle to transport the bag to a business parking lot in McAllen. He was subsequently arrested as investigators discovered the bag contained 9.39 kilograms (about 21 pounds) of a suspected controlled substance, 1.1 kilograms of which tested positive for the properties of cocaine.

Pursuant to a search warrant, agents then searched his residence where they retrieved a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun, two magazines and ammunition. Currently on probation and having two felony convictions, federal law prohibits Saenz from possessing firearms.

If convicted, Saenz faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison for the cocaine charge, and up to life if convicted of illegally possessing a firearm.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen Rees, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting this case.

A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Updated: 12/05/2014