LAREDO, Texas – A federal grand jury has returned a two-count indictment against a 20-year-old Haltom City man for conspiring with others to import approximately 438.99 grams of meth from Mexico, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Cesar Augusto Berlanga Jr. is charged with importing meth into the United States and one count of conspiracy. Originally charged by criminal complaint, he has remained in custody pending further criminal proceedings. He is expected to appear before a U.S. magistrate judge on the indictment in the near future.
On July 9, Berlanga applied for admission as a pedestrian into the United States from Mexico at the Gateway to the Americas International Bridge in Laredo, according to the charges. During primary inspection, an officer allegedly noticed Berlanga’s shoes appeared to be larger than normal. The charges allege that while being escorted for further inspection, Berlanga ran towards the streets of Laredo. Authorities quickly apprehended him approximately two blocks away after a brief foot chase, according to the allegations.
An inspection of Berlanga’s shoes allegedly revealed two plastic bags containing a substance that field tested positive for meth. The drugs weighed approximately 438.99 grams and have an estimated street value of $3073, according to the charges.
If convicted, Berlanga face a minimum of 10 years in federal prison and a possible $10 million maximum fine.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with assistance from Customs and Border Protection. Assistant U.S. Attorney Yoona Lim is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.