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Cartel, MS-13 affiliate sentenced

August 30, 2023 - 00:00
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A Navasota auto shop owner who was linked to the cartel and the MS-13 gang was sentenced to 50 years in prison by a Grimes County Grand Jury Aug. 24, for various drug charges.

Navasota Police responded to the 500 block of Frazier Street June 21, 2022 for a report of a stolen vehicle. Officers tracked the stolen vehicle using a GPS tracking device. They tracked it to R&R Auto Repair, 319 E. Hill Street in Navasota.

Officers located the vehicle inside the auto shop owned by 51-year-old Leonardo Perez. It was partially disassembled.

A multi-department search warrant was executed by Navasota Police, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Department of Public Safety and a Bryan Police Department Narcotics Agent. The search uncovered methamphetamine and over four pounds of marijuana. Officers later recovered firearms in Perez’s possession.

Perez pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony. He also pled true to a punishment enhancement for a previous felony conviction of Delivery of Cocaine, which enhanced the punishment range from 5 to 99 years.

A jury was assembled Aug. 22, to assess punishment for Perez. During the sentencing hearing, District Attorney Andria Bender and Assistant District Attorney Meagan Callahan presented evidence that Perez was tracking significant amounts of drugs and was linked to a Mexican cartel and the MS-13 gang. The attorneys said Perez not only sold illegal narcotics but was also trading stolen guns for the cartel.

District Attorney Investigator Blake Baldobino, who is a forensic expert in cellphone analysis, testified that he uncovered hundreds of images of drugs and stolen guns on Perez’s cell phone.

Bender and Callahan asked the jury for a 40-year sentence, but after 45 minutes of deliberation, the jury issued a 50-year sentence and $10,000 fine.

“Today, I am grateful to the jurors who heard this case,” said Bender. “With their verdict, they made it very clear how Grimes County citizens feel about drug dealers operating in their community. I feel very strongly that putting drug dealers in prison makes the Grimes County community safer. Most of the violent crimes we have in Grimes County are drug-related.”

Perez remains in the Grimes County Jail awaiting transfer to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.