Crime

Cocaine was only thing she packed for this beach trip, court paper says

Sara Elisa Ceron
Sara Elisa Ceron

A woman who told a deputy she was on her way to Gulfport had passed both city exits on Interstate 10 — with five kilos of cocaine, a court paper says.

Sara Elisa Ceron, 30, had crossed the Mexican border in the same vehicle a day earlier, entering the U.S. in Brownsville, Texas, according to a federal drug agent’s affidavit.

She was arrested Monday after a Harrison County deputy sheriff reported he’d pulled her over for careless driving on Interstate 10 near the Woolmarket exit.

Her eastbound 2014 Buick Encore drifted into other lanes, causing motorists behind her to brake suddenly, the document says. The deputy pulled her over at Mile Marker 43 two miles east of the Woolmarket exit.

Conflicting information she gave and a criminal background check raised the deputy’s suspicions, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent said in his affidavit.

Ceron told the deputy she was on her way to visit family in Gulfport. The deputy thought that odd since she’d passed both Gulfport exits, the agent said.

In conversation, Ceron allegedly said she’d bought the sport utility vehicle three months ago, quit her job four months ago, and planned to take care of her mom, but said she had just started working for an accountant in Mexico.

She “expounded on her travel plans, adding that she was headed to visit the beach,” the agent said.

‘A sophisticated trap’

Ceron gave permission for a search of her vehicle, a document said. A deputy sheriff and a Gulfport police officer searched the SUV at the Harrison County Sheriff’s Work Center.

The officers found five one-kilo packages of cocaine in “a sophisticated trap” in the SUV, the agent said.

Ceron told a DEA agent she was only stopping in Gulfport briefly to pick up relatives for a trip to the beach in Pensacola, Florida, the agent said. She hadn’t packed a swim suit, beach towels, a cooler or other beach accessories.

When asked about the hidden compartment, the agent wrote, Ceron said it must have been in the SUV before she bought it from a Ford dealership.

Agent: Ties to Mexico

The agent said he asked for her relatives’ names, and Ceron said they are in the U.S. without permission.

A background check showed she’d crossed the Mexican border in the SUV on Sunday, the agent said.

Ceron had her initial appearance in federal court Tuesday, records show. She is temporarily held with no bond on suspicion of drug-trafficking.

Preliminary and detention hearings are set for Thursday. A prosecutor has asked that Ceron remain in custody for further court action.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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