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5 arrested on charges of cocaine trafficking using UPS packages

Five people, including two UPS Inc. employees, were arrested last week on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine using the company’s packages and possession with intent to distribute the drug, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas said Monday.

Among those arrested, according to the multicount indictment unsealed last week, were Orlando Candelario Almanza, 49, and Fidencio Salinas Jr., 51, both of whom have worked for the Atlanta-based company in unspecified roles. Both were scheduled to appear in court Monday morning.

According to the indictment, on multiple occasions between March 24 and Oct. 3, 2022, the five individuals knowingly conspired to transport cocaine through UPS (NYSE: UPS) packages. The charges allege that Javier Enrique Mendoza, 48, and Jose Felipe Lozano, 58, two of the others arrested, provided the cocaine packages to company employees. At the same time, Lozano allegedly provided fraudulent labels for the packages. 

A fifth individual, Enrique Bernardo Gamez, 45, stored the cocaine at his residence prior to transport, according to the federal charges.

Law enforcement seized about 60 kilograms of the cocaine these individuals allegedly trafficked, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.

If convicted, the defendants all face up to life in prison and a possible $10 million fine.

In a statement, UPS said it is aware of the incident and is cooperating with the investigation, declining further comment.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, Hidalgo County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and the FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Garcia is prosecuting the case, according to the prosecutor statement.