March 12, 2015
Contact: SA Debbie Webber
Phone Number: (504) 840-1363
Federal Jury Convicts Guatemalan For Cocaine And Methamphetamine Conspiracy
LAKE CHARLES, La. - Drug Enforcement (DEA) Assistant Special Agent in Charge Joseph W. Shepherd and United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that, after a two-day trial, a federal jury found a Guatemalan guilty of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute more than $1.5 million worth of cocaine and $75,000 worth of methamphetamine.
Jose Gabriel Mendez, 35, a Guatemalan living in Texas, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine, one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. United States District Judge Donald E. Walter presided over the trial. The defendant’s trial started Tuesday and ended Wednesday afternoon with the jury returning the guilty verdict after deliberating for approximately two hours. Evidence admitted at trial showed that law enforcement agents conducted a traffic stop on October 15, 2014, of a 1996 Dodge Dakota pickup truck driven by Mendez. Further investigation by Corporal Kevin Hoover of the Calcasieu Parish Combined Anti-Drug Task (CAT) revealed 516 grams of methamphetamine and 15 kilograms of cocaine hidden in the four door panels and tire jack compartment of the truck.
Mendez faces 10 years to life in prison, five years of supervised release and a $10 million fine. Sentencing is set for June 29, 2015. Mendez’s co-conspirator in the indictment, Jack Edward Lane, 67, of Brownsville, Texas, previously pleaded guilty to the drug conspiracy on January 20, 2015. Sentencing is set for April 15, 2015.
The DEA and Calcasieu Parish Combined Anti-Drug Task Force conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David C. Joseph and Howard C. Parker prosecuted the case.