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Man sentenced in meth smuggling scheme

| Friday, Feb. 27, 2015, 4:22 p.m.

An Oakland man who smuggled 889 grams of methamphetamine into the country from Mexico by having it stuffed into the frames of two large pictures of religious figures will spend five years in prison, a federal judge ruled Friday.

Carmelo Rojas-Perez, 31, pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to import the drug and to possessing it with the intent to sell it.

U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti also sentenced Rojas-Perez to five years of probation. Although he'll be deported to Mexico shortly after his release from prison, re-entering the country would be a violation of his probation, she said.

If that happens, “you're facing significant time in jail,” Conti said.

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 he would need a Social Security number to send a larger amount, according to an affidavit by Michael O'Neill, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations.

He had a friend from his boyhood home of Toluca, Mexico, send a test package before shipping the art with the meth, prosecutors say. The friend shipped the art to Las Palmas, an Oakland store, where Rojas-Perez retrieved the pictures and took them home, prosecutors said.

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