ASHEVILLE, N.C. – A federal jury in Asheville has convicted Jorge Luis Perez, 36, of Wimauma, Florida, of drug trafficking and firearms offenses, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger presided over the three-day trial which ended today.
According to court documents, witness testimony, and evidence presented at trial, in May 2020, law enforcement conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle Perez was driving in Jackson County, North Carolina. Over the course of the traffic stop, law enforcement located a trafficking quantity of methamphetamine and a loaded firearm in the vehicle. Law enforcement also found more than $10,000 in cash on Perez’s person. Trial evidence further established that, in July 2020, law enforcement conducted another traffic stop of a vehicle Perez was driving in Swain County, North Carolina. Over the course of that traffic stop, law enforcement located an even larger trafficking quantity of methamphetamine and set of digital scales in the vehicle. A search of Perez’s trailer later that day led to the seizure of additional evidence to include methamphetamine, multiple firearms, and a money counter.
A federal jury convicted Perez of two counts of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine – one carrying a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and one carrying a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, which carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison. Perez remains in custody. A sentencing date has not been set.
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles criminal organizations using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King commended the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the Swain County Sheriff’s Office, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida for their coordination and investigation of the case.
Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Kent and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA) Annabelle Chambers, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office are prosecuting the case. Ms. Chambers is a state prosecutor with the office of the 30th Prosecutorial District and was assigned by District Attorney Ashley Welch to serve as SAUSA with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville. Ms. Chambers is sworn in both state and federal courts. The SAUSA position is a reflection of the partnership between the office of the 30th Prosecutorial District and the United States Attorney’s Office. The SAUSA position helps ensure the effective and vigorous prosecution of federal court cases that impact the counties within the 30th Prosecutorial District.
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