Cocaine worth over $1 million seized in Missouri drug bust on I-70

Cocaine News Graphic
Share To Your Social Network

An Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, man has pleaded guilty to his role in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine after law enforcement officers seized more than $1 million worth of cocaine from a rental truck that was stopped on Interstate 70 in Lafayette County, Missouri.

Luis Gerardo Nieto-Acosta, 37, a citizen of Mexico, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough on Monday, April 29, to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, one count of possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute, and one count of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

Nieto-Acosta, the fourth and final defendant to plead guilty in this case, entered his plea on the day his trial was scheduled to begin. Co-defendants Wilmer Antony Mendoza-Perez, 25, a citizen of Honduras, and Miguel Angel Anguiano-Viera, 27, both of Oklahoma City, along with Jose Eduardo Acosta-Bermejo, 29, a citizen of Mexico, of Bethany, Oklahoma, also have pleaded guilty to their roles in the drug-trafficking conspiracy.

An officer with the Missouri State Highway Patrol stopped Mendoza-Perez on January 24, 2023, as he was driving a Penske rental truck eastbound on Interstate 70 in Lafayette County. A Toyota Highlander, later determined to be occupied by Nieto-Acosta and Acosta-Bermejo, attempted to prevent the officer from getting behind the Penske truck to initiate a stop. When the Penske truck pulled over, the Toyota Highlander continued traveling eastbound on Interstate 70.

According to the rental agreement for the Penske truck, it was rented in Oklahoma City on January 20, 2023, by a woman who was not present in the truck and scheduled to be returned to Fullerton, California, on January 26, 2023. Mendoza-Perez could not explain why he was driving the truck in Missouri.

The officer searched the rear cargo area of the truck and found two boxes containing a total of 34 kilograms of cocaine. The average street price in the Kansas City metropolitan area for a kilogram of cocaine was approximately $30,000 at that time, which would make 34 kilograms of cocaine worth approximately $1,020,000.

Mendoza-Perez was arrested. The Toyota Highlander was found abandoned at the Pilot truck stop a few miles away. Investigators later searched the Highlander and found two Taurus 9mm semi-automatic handguns, with four magazines and 9mm ammunition.

Investigators reviewed surveillance video at the truck stop, which showed a third vehicle, a Honda Pilot occupied by Anguiano-Viera and a juvenile female, arriving at the truck stop and picking up Nieto-Acosta and Acosta-Bermejo. A short time later, this vehicle was located, and the occupants were arrested when they stopped at a convenience store in Odessa, Missouri.

Under federal statutes, Nieto-Acosta is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, and up to a life sentence in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert M. Smith and John C. Constance. It was investigated by the Lafayette County, Missouri, Sheriff’s Office, the Kansas City Airport Police, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Share To Your Social Network