Smuggling cocaine from Texas nets eight years in prison

Monday, March 11, 2019

A Texas man was sentenced to 96 months in prison for smuggling nearly two kilograms of cocaine to Bloomington, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday.

Luis Gonzalez-Perez, 31, of Austin, was found guilty last week by Hennepin County District Court Judge Toddrick Barnette of first-degree controlled substance, first-degree sale of cocaine and first-degree possession of cocaine. The case was heard by Judge Barnette as a stipulated evidence trial.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office had asked for a sentence of 125 months because Judge Barnette had found aggravating circumstances. Gonzalez-Perez’s lawyer argued for the mandatory minimum sentence of 86 months. The aggravating circumstance was the large amount of cocaine, which the judge said Monday was more than he usually sees in a drug case.

According to the evidence put before the judge, on Oct. 11, a Bloomington Police Officer noticed a white Honda Civic with a Texas license plate in the parking lot of the Super 8 motel, 7800 Second Ave. S. in Bloomington. The officer was suspicious that it might be related to drug trafficking, so he watched it until the car pulled away and drove east on Interstate 494. When the car committed a traffic violation, the officer pulled over Gonzalez-Perez.

Gonzalez-Perez told the officer he was visiting friends in Minnesota, but couldn’t give any of their names. He also had insurance for the car that was issued four days earlier and would expire on Nov. 7. There was no luggage in the car but loose tools and loose bolts.

The officer called in a drug sniffing dog who indicated the presence of drugs. A thorough search found two packages of cocaine taped to the undercarriage of the Honda weighting 1.77 kilograms, or about four pounds. The drugs had a street value of about $65,000.

Gonzalez-Perez told police he borrowed the car from his children’s mother and visited a friend, “Antonio” in Bastrop, Texas, who offered him $7,000 to drive to Minnesota. The man took the car for a short time and when he returned it, he gave Gonzalez-Perez $800 in expense money. Gonzalez-Perez drove directly to Minnesota, stopping only to sleep in Kansas City.

Criminal Complaint (PDF)