TUCSON, Ariz. — Eleven men charged with shipping money and drugs, and in some cases using their status as UPS employees to do it made their initial appearances in court Wednesday afternoon.
According to court documents, a busy UPS shipping center on Silverlake Road in Tucson is at the center of the case. Investigators say four employees there helped move illegal drugs and money, and eight others brought them contraband to move.
Tucson Police Officers assigned to the Counter Narcotics Alliance say UPS supervisors Mario Barcelo and Gary Love used what they knew of UPS procedures to get drugs and drug money shipped without being discovered. UPS drivers Michael Castro and Thomas Mendoza helped move the contraband, prosecutors say.
Eight other defendants who were not with UPS are also charged in the case, including one who has not been named because he has not been found and arrested.
All 11 defendants in the case appeared in front of Judge Lee Ann Roads for arraignment. She entered not guilty pleas on their behalf -- routine for this early stage of the case. Judge Roads also set a mid-January hearing with another judge to work out the next moves in the case.
The judge also agreed to reduce bond for one of the defendants: Raul Cordova. Police and Federal agents raided his home in Pima County last month. They say they found marijuana, and the equipment to make vape pens that deliver THC, the chemical in marijuana that delivers most of the high.
He had been required to post a $250,000 in cash to bond out. Now he can post a percentage, perhaps as low as $30,000.
We did learn a little more about some of the defendants -- three have fiancées. We know because they came to court in support. One defendant, Martin Octavio Siqueros-Diaz, did not appear -- he’s been deported.