Crime

These travelers had no luggage. But what was inside the Camaro landed a pair in trouble.

Most of the cocaine brought in to the U.S. is produced in Columbia and enters the U.S. through Mexico, the DEA’s website says.
Most of the cocaine brought in to the U.S. is produced in Columbia and enters the U.S. through Mexico, the DEA’s website says.

Francisco Sanchez Correa had nearly made it to his destination in Gulfport when the Camaro he was driving was pulled over in Pass Christian.

He and his passenger had no identification and no luggage, but 5.8 kilos of cocaine were hidden inside the car, leading to their arrests on June 5, court papers show.

Correa, 27, has been sentenced to prison for 57 months and fined $2,000 for interstate travel in aid of drug racketeering enterprises. After serving his time, he will be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Correa and Leonel Chavez Vargas, age unavailable, had driven from Texas and told a Harrison County deputy they planned to visit with a friend in Gulfport and would get a hotel, a DEA Task Force agent wrote in an affidavit.

The deputy had stopped the green and black Camaro on Interstate 10, reporting the car was driving too close to a tanker truck in inclement weather. Correa had no paperwork showing he owned the car.

Correa and Vargas had both been removed from the U.S. in the past, records show.

A federal grand jury indicted them on drug-trafficking charges on June 15.

Correa, a restaurant worker in Smithville, Texas, accepted a plea deal on Aug. 11, court records show. U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden sentenced him Nov. 20.

Vargas faces five to 40 years in prison.

He pleaded guilty on Nov. 21 to possession with intent to distribute cocaine. He will be sentenced Feb. 28.

At the time of their arrests, Vargas was wanted on a weapon violation by federal firearm agents in Houston, court documents show.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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