Man arrested in Lorena gets 5 years for smuggling drug cartel mo - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

WACO

Man arrested in Lorena gets 5 years for smuggling drug cartel money

WACO, TX (KXXV) - A man who was arrested more than four years ago after a traffic stop in Lorena, will spend five years in federal prison for smuggling cash for the Los Zetas drug cartel.

Carlos Mercado pleaded guilty to one count of Bulk Cash Smuggling into or out of the United States, and an earlier charge of possessing with intent to distribute more than 50 kilos of marijuana was dropped in the plea agreement.

In February of 2010 a McLennan County deputy pulled over a Ford pickup pulling a horse trailer on I-35 southbound in Lorena.  Mercado was a passenger in that vehicle being driven by another man.  The two told deputies different stories about where they were headed, and the suspects agreed to allow a search of their vehicle.

Deputies found more than $18,000 cash in Mercado's jacket and another $1,000 in the front seat of the truck.  Investigators later discovered more than $100,000 hidden in the horse trailer that was supposed to be given to a Mexican drug cartel.

Mercado pled guilty in June of 2014 and was sentenced Wednesday in Waco's federal courthouse.  His 60 month sentence is not subject to parole and cannot be appealed.

 Agents from the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit, the DEA and Lorena Police Department investigated the case.
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