GULFPORT -- A Texas woman has admitted supplying crystal meth, or ice, for sales in Harrison County in one of three related drug-trafficking cases, including one that involved shipments of meth hidden in ice coolers.
Rachel Esparza Saenz, 50, of Webster, pleaded guilty Friday to a meth-trafficking charge in a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation.
She faces up to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute meth in May and June. She will be sentenced March 22.
Crystal meth is meth in its purest form.
DEA agents identified her after Harrison County deputies stopped a vehicle May 19 on a littering violation. Court papers show two men in the vehicle had a black bag containing a pound of meth, and a small bag of meth and a pipe concealed in a flashlight.
The men said a woman named "Poca" or "Pocahantas" sold them the meth earlier that day at Shady Glen Motel in Channelview, Texas, a DEA agent's criminal complaint said. One of the men remembered the motel room number.
Court papers show undercover police in Houston raided the motel room later that day, seizing meth and crack cocaine and arresting Saenz.
A federal grand jury indicted Saenz on June 23.
Two delivered ice
In a related indictment, Joseph W. Moran Jr., 38, of Saucier, and James D. Byrd, 51, of Vancleave, have each pleaded guilty to interstate travel in aid of drug racketeering enterprises.
Court papers say they were the men in the littering traffic stop that led drug agents to Saenz. Officials said security cameras at the motel where Saenz was arrested show Moran and Byrd leaving the hotel with the bag of meth they were found with in Harrison County.
Moran and Byrd each face up to five years in prison. They will be sentenced Jan. 28.
'Ice' in coolers
Another indictment, filed Dec. 8, accuses James Michael "Jimmy" Robinson, 35, in a related meth-trafficking conspiracy. He's suspected of delivering more than 10 pounds of crystal meth from California to Harrison County from summer 2014 and throughout this year.
A criminal complaint alleges that, on one trip, Joseph Moran used a van rented in D'Iberville to take money to Los Angeles to buy several pounds of crystal meth hidden in ice coolers. Pictures provided by an unidentified source allegedly show Robinson holding meth and the coolers.
Robinson was arrested in his vehicle Sept. 29 at the Albuquerque International Airport, where he allegedly was found with meth hidden in the side walls of a cooler. He also was wanted in Harrison County on a meth charge.
Robinson is set for trial on a court calendar that starts Jan. 25.