Crime

Couple jailed in sting that netted 21.2 kilos of meth

Miguel Villalobos Chavez
Miguel Villalobos Chavez

A Mexican drug broker’s deal for 21.2 kilos of meth has led to a couple’s indictment on drug trafficking charges in Gulfport.

A federal grand jury indicted Miguel Villalobos Chavez, 35, and Maria Martina Martinez Marcias, 32, on charges from an undercover sting operation. The amount of meth reportedly seized weighs 46.7 pounds.

A magistrate judge formally charged them Tuesday. Both pleaded not guilty. They are set for trial on a court calendar that starts Oct. 3.

They were arrested July 16 as Chavez unloaded packages of meth behind a hotel on U.S. 49, a DEA Task Force agent’s affidavit said.

Chavez and Marcias each face a drug conspiracy charge and one count each of possession with intent to distribute meth and interstate and foreign travel in aid of racketeering enterprises.

They are held without bond.

Negotiations took place

A confidential informant had negotiated the drug deal for several months with a broker in Mexico until the broker asked the informant to have his or her “people” meet a courier, help unload the meth and make a partial payment, the agent wrote.

The broker also allegedly gave the courier’s telephone number to the informant.

The day of the delivery, a DEA agent met with a second informant to discuss how to handle the deal. They notified the original informant, asking the person to call the courier.

The courier was in a blue Jeep Cherokee behind a Mexican restaurant. The second informant met with Chavez and Marcias and they reportedly agreed to exchange the meth at a less-visible location. They drove to the rear of a nearby hotel.

Marcias was concerned about security cameras and the number of vehicles traveling in the area but the informant told her numerous transactions had taken place behind the hotel and there had been no problems, according to the affidavit.

Arrests without incident

Marcias served as lookout and released the hood latch on the vehicle, and Chavez began unloading packages of meth, the Task Force agent said. The informant reportedly saw the drugs and gave the agent a “takedown” signal. Agents took the couple into custody without incident.

The affidavit does not give the value of the meth or the amount of the partial payment.

Interpreters have been called to court to translate for the couple during hearings, records show.

Chavez and Marcias also are held for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A grand jury indicted them on Aug. 23.

The lead investigator is a Mississippi Highway Patrol state trooper assigned to the Task Force in 2010, records show.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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