Union Pacific employee pleads guilty, will be sentenced in April on federal drug charges

Rene Mendoza, 50, Van Horn, on Jan. 28, 2015, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Western District of Texas (Midland) on federal drug charges.

According to official court documents, “Rene Mendoza did conspire, confederate and agree with others known and unknown to the Grand Jury to possess with intent to distribute and distribute a controlled substance, which offense involved one thousand (1,000) kilograms or more of marijuana, contrary to Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A), in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846.”

Mr. Mendoza was arrested on Jan. 13, 2015.

To establish probable cause, Stephen Johnson, a special agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration based in Midland, filed an affidavit with the U.S. District Court outlining the facts of the case. Mr. Johnson’s affidavit states that only “pertinent” facts required to establish probably cause are listed.

The affidavit states that “on February 28, 2014, approximately 225 pounds of marijuana was seized by the Kermit Police Department in Kermit, Texas out of Dodge Caliber. Two females from vehicle named Nancy Karber and Engui Chaparro were arrested.

Information was received after they arrested that they had transported the marijuana from El Paso, Texas to Fort Hancock, Texas where they gave the marijuana to Rene Mendoza who was a Union Pacific Railroad employee. Mendoza then transported the marijuana from Fort Hancock, Texas in his Union Pacific vehicle around the Sierra Blanca, Texas checkpoint to his residence in Van Horn, Texas. Mendoza then met with Karber and Chaparro at his residence and gave them back the marijuana.

In March 2014, I obtained Mendoza’s telephone number from Union Pacific and also obtained historical GPS location data for his telephone. The location data verified that Mendoza was in Fort Hancock, Texas and in Van Horn, Texas, when the information I obtained had indicated.”

The affidavit goes on to say that in January 2015, Mr. Johnson spoke with a confidential source who told Mr. Johnson that Mr. Mendoza “was involved with transporting illegal narcotics around the Sierra Blanca, Texas checkpoint and had witnessed Mendoza load a vehicle with was believed to be illegal narcotics from his Union Pacific vehicle at his house on multiple occasions over the last year.”

The affidavit concludes by stating that probable cause exists to show “that Rene Mendoza did knowingly and intentionally possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana in violation of 21 USC 841 (a)1(1).”

On Feb. 11, Mr. Mendoza entered in a written plea agreement for which there is no information available electronically. Also, on Feb. 11, Mr. Mendoza posted a secure bond in the amount of $25,000. United States District Judge signed an order for sentencing in Midland on April 30, 2015 at 10:15 a.m. in Courtroom 3, Third Floor of the United States Courthouse, 200 E. Wall, in Midland.


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