A Texas man has been sentenced to eight years in prison for attempting to smuggle cocaine into Minnesota.
Luis Gonzalez-Perez, 31, of Austin, was sentenced last week to the eight-year term after he was found guilty of three first-degree felony drug counts. With credit for time in jail since his arrest last fall, Gonzalez-Perez will serve the first five years in prison and the balance on supervised release.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office had sought a sentence of nearly 12½ years, while the defense argued for the minimum of slightly more than seven years.
Judge Toddrick Barnette, who found Gonzalez-Perez guilty of first-degree controlled substance, first-degree sale of cocaine and first-degree possession of cocaine, said he imposed more than the mandatory minimum sentence given the large amount of cocaine involved.
According to the evidence weighed by Barnette and the criminal complaint:
On Oct. 11, a Bloomington police officer noticed a car with a Texas license plate in the parking lot of the Super 8 motel along Interstate 494 east of Nicollet Avenue that made him suspect it might be connected to drug trafficking.
Gonzalez-Perez pulled away and drove east on I-494. He soon committed a traffic violation, and the officer pulled him over.
Gonzalez-Perez told the officer he was visiting friends in Minnesota but couldn’t provide any names. He gave the officer a Mexican identification card and proof of car insurance. There was no luggage in the vehicle but loose tools and loose bolts.
The officer called in a drug-sniffing dog, which detected drugs in the car. A search found two packages of cocaine taped to the undercarriage of the Honda and two cellphones. The 4 pounds of cocaine 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 it to Minnesota, where someone would meet him at a Walmart.
Gonzalez-Perez drove directly to Minnesota knowing he was transporting illicit drugs, stopping only to sleep in Kansas City, prosecutors said.