Crime

‘Mini-vacation’ was for 12-pound meth deal, federal drug agent says

Carlos Ignacio Bustos-Tinoco
Carlos Ignacio Bustos-Tinoco

Travelers were under surveillance when they reached a truck stop for the delivery of 12 pounds of crystal meth in an $84,000 drug deal, a court document said.

Some of them reportedly were couriers who arrived with meth at the Flying J Travel Plaza on Canal Road on an El Expresso Bus about 4:30 a.m. Jan. 9. A Nissan Maxima drove up and took them to hotels adjacent to each other on U.S. 49, a DEA Task Force agent said in a criminal complaint filed in federal court Wednesday.

The deal was brokered by a Mexican drug broker, the agent said.

Carlos Bustos-Tinoco, 34, from the Houston area, is a drug supplier who arranged the trip to Gulfport that several women who came along thought was a vacation, the agent said.

Two children were with the travelers when federal agents arrested Tinoco and four others hours later at the Motel 6 on U.S. 49 in Orange Grove.

Several brought their wives

Rene Hernandez, 25, had come on the bus with Kristina Denise Beldin, 30, and a woman who had a small child with her. Hernandez and Belden were identified in court papers as the drug couriers.

Tinoco’s wife, who also had a child with her, reportedly told federal agents her husband had brought her to Gulfport for a mini-vacation.

Jimmy Penaloza-Lopez, 25, also brought his wife. She was not arrested, though. Lopez allegedly told federal agents Tinoco had asked him to come to Gulfport to pick up some money, so he invited his cousin Christian Penaloza-Mondragon, 18, to come along as well, the agent said.

Agents watched as Tinoco, Hernandez and Lopez went in and out of a hotel room, and temporarily stopped surveillance to keep from being noticed, according to the document.

More than 12 pounds seized

The confidential source had arranged for someone else to pick up the meth, and that source was wearing an audio transmitter. Lopez allegedly put a suitcase in the back seat of that person’s car and Tinoco got in the Nissan to drive a short distance from Motel 6 to an EconoLodge to finish the deal.

Agents conducted a traffic stop, arresting Tinoco and Lopez. They arrested Hernandez, Beldin and Mondragon in a hotel room while the other women and children were in a different hotel room.

A DEA agent retrieved about 6.3 kilos of crystal meth. Twelve pounds, the amount in the deal, is about 5.4 kilos.

All of the adults were questioned, the agent said.

The five arrested are held on suspicion of trafficking in meth. They are held with no bond for appearances in U.S. District Court.

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