A Texas truck driver arrested near Ocean Springs has pleaded not guilty to federal charges involving 14.2 kilos, or about 31 pounds of cocaine.
Juan Ignacio Gomez, 36, was arraigned on drug trafficking charges Friday in U.S. District Court.
A South Mississippi Metro Enforcement Team officer had pulled over Gomez on a careless driving charge July 6 on Interstate 10 just east of Ocean Springs Exit 50. Gomez was eastbound and towing a white trailer with a Mexico license place, and had swerved toward the right lane, an FBI special agent’s affidavit said.
Gomez reportedly said he was driving from Laredo, Texas, to North Carolina.
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A background check showed Gomez had crossed the Mexico border nine times in the past six months while using five different vehicles registered in his name, the agent said.
The SMMET officer on July 6 asked for written permission to search the vehicle. Gomez gave permission to search the trailer, but not the truck.
A K-9 alerted to the driver’s side of the truck, where officers said 12 packages of cocaine were in a black duffel bag between the bed and cabinet.
While Gomez was alone in an interview room, video surveillance filmed him taking a folded bill out of his wallet and waving the bill in the air, the agent said. Gomez reportedly wiped a substance off his shirt and put the bill back in his wallet. Agents said they found cocaine residue in the wallet.
Gomez is indicted on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and interstate and foreign travel in aid of racketeering enterprises.
He is set for trial on a court calendar that starts Oct. 2. Gomez is held with no bond.