A Houston man arrested during a June 10 traffic stop and search that netted nearly half a million dollars worth of cocaine was indicted Thursday on three counts of federal drug trafficking violations.
Michael Mendez, 51, was driving on Interstate 12 in Tangipahoa Parish when a Louisiana State Police trooper pulled him over for a traffic violation. During the stop, troopers discovered more than 15 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride and a loaded 9 mm Glock pistol inside the car, U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite said in a news release.
The cocaine, which had an estimated value of $450,000, had been hidden in a secret compartment within the vehicle, State Police said at the time. Mendez consented to the search.
Mendez was indicted Thursday on one count each of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute over five kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride; possession with intent to distribute over five kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offense, Polite said.
If convicted of either drug offense, Mendez faces up to 10 years to life in prison, up to a $10,000,000 fine and at least five years of court supervision after his release, Polite said. If convicted of the gun offense, Mendez faces at least five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and no more than five years of supervised release.