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Oakland man pleads guilty to smuggling drugs from Mexico

| Friday, Oct. 31, 2014, 5:43 p.m.

An Oakland man admitted Friday in federal court he had a friend in Toluca, Mexico, ship him two large pictures of religious figures with about a kilogram of methamphetamine stuffed in the frames.

Carmelo Rojas-Perez, age unknown, pleaded guilty to one count each of drug smuggling and drug dealing.

U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti scheduled his sentencing for Feb. 27.

Rojas-Perez, who has been in the country illegally since 1993, told police that he paid for the drugs by wiring money to Mexico $1,000 at a time because that was the maximum he could send without a Social Security number, according to an affidavit by Michael O'Neill, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations.

He also admitted that “Angel,” his friend in Mexico, shipped him another picture. Its frame was stuffed with meth as well. Rojas-Perez had the frames shipped to Las Palmas, an Oakland store, where he retrieved them and took them home, prosecutors said.

Police found photos of stacks of money and a white powder on his smartphone. Rojas-Perez claimed the powder in the picture was fake drugs, the affidavit said.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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