Man to plead in meth case, others set for trial

Joseph W. Moran Jr.
Joseph W. Moran Jr.

GULFPORT -- A Vancleave man intends to plead guilty in a federal case involving more than a pound of crystal meth while two others face trial on related charges.

James D. Byrd, 51, has notified U.S. District Court of his intent to plead guilty in a case involving meth he and a Saucier man allegedly brought to South Mississippi from Texas.

He is set to enter his plea Monday before Judge Sul Ozerden.

Byrd and Joseph W. Moran Jr., 38, are accused of having the crystal meth in a vehicle when Harrison County deputies pulled them over in a traffic stop May 19 on Interstate 10. Moran was out on bond on a meth possession charge filed by county narcotics agents April 28.

A drug-sniffing canine reportedly found the meth in a black bag in the May 19 traffic stop, prompting officers to notify the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Byrd told agents they had bought the meth earlier that day from a woman named Poca or Pocahantas at the Shady Glen Motel in Channelview, Texas, a DEA agent's criminal complaint said. Byrd even remembered the motel room number.

The DEA contacted Houston police, who performed an undercover buy. They allegedly purchased 2.8 grams of meth at the motel from a woman named Pocahantas.

They identified Pocahontas as 50-year-old Rachel Espanza Saenz of Webster, Texas.

The DEA has motel surveillance video that shows the men leaving the Texas hotel with a black bag matching the one they had containing meth, the agent said.

A federal grand jury indicted Byrd and Moran on June 2. They each face charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute meth, possession with intent to distribute meth and interstate travel in aid of racketeering enterprises.

The grand jury indicted Saenz on the same conspiracy charge June 23.

Moran's trial is set on a court calendar that starts Nov. 2.

Trial for Saenz is tentatively set for Jan. 4, 2016.

All three are held with no bond.