“Socalj” for Borderland Beat

A total of five people near McAllen, Texas have been arrested on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, announced Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux, Houston Division, and U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Law enforcement seized approximately 60 kilograms of cocaine these individuals allegedly trafficked.

Orlando Candelario Almanza, 49, and Fidencio Salinas Jr., 51, made their initial appearances before US Judge Nadia S. Medrano. Also arrested last week were Javier Enrique Mendoza, 48, and Jose Felipe Lozano, 58. Enrique Bernardo Gamez, 45, was previously in custody on related charges and will make his appearance in the near future.

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.

On multiple occasions between March 24 through Oct. 3, 2022, the indictment alleges the five individuals conspired to transport cocaine through UPS packages. 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.

A spokesperson for UPS stated that they are aware of the charges against Salinas and Almanza and are cooperating with investigators.

“We are aware of the incident involving two UPS employees and we’re cooperating with the investigation,” UPS said. “As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to make additional comments at this time, but instead defer to investigating authorities.”