A Jefferson Parish jury convicted a Texas man Thursday (June 14) of his role in a conspiracy to distribute more than 50 pounds of cocaine, which federal and local authorities seized while arresting him two years ago outside a Metairie motel.
Miguel Angel Garcia Jr., 44, of Laredo, was convicted as charged of possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, which authorities believe was smuggled into the United States from Mexico. The cocaine had a wholesale value of more than $600,000 – with a street value of double or thrice that amount, according to trial evidence.
“This is more dope than any one of us could consume in a lifetime and survive,” Assistant District Attorney Doug Freese, who prosecuted Garcia with Jennifer Voss, told jurors in closing argument, pointing to the 20 bricks of cocaine displayed on a table in the courtroom.
Acting on a tip, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives on March 3, 2016 surveilled a motel in the 2400 block of Clearview Parkway, just off Interstate 10, according to evidence presented during the two-day trial.
The agents observed Garcia and Misael Cardenas-Sanchez, who was then 17, arrive in and then park a pick-up truck attached to a trailer, according to testimony. On the trailer was an inoperable Chevrolet Trailblazer whose gasoline tank was modified to store the cocaine, according to trial evidence.
Neither suspect claimed ownership of the cocaine upon their arrests. However, Sanchez, now 19, pleaded guilty as charged to possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine on Jan. 25. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Garcia continued to deny criminal involvement, saying he believed he was merely transporting a vehicle.
The jury deliberated less than two hours before reaching its verdict. Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Garcia on June 28.
Assistant District Attorneys Doug Freese and Jennifer Voss prosecuted the case.