Mexican man caught with cocaine bricks at Pharr Whataburger

A Mexican man will make an appearance before a federal magistrate Wednesday in connection with accusations he smuggled more than 4 kilos of cocaine from Mexico into the U.S., records show.

On Friday, Felipe Albino-De La Cruz made his initial appearance before a judge after he was arrested in connection with drug smuggling charges. Authorities found him with more than 4 kilos of cocaine, the criminal complaint stated.

Albino allegedly smuggled cocaine into the country from Mexico and was caught as he tried to leave the vehicle at a local fast food restaurant.

The arrest came as a result of a tip to federal law enforcement that Albino was in possession of a vehicle loaded with narcotics at a Pharr Whataburger, the complaint stated.

During surveillance of Albino, federal agents witnessed the vehicle leaving the Whataburger parking lot and departing the area. Federal agents coordinated with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s office which stopped and subsequently arrested Albino, records showed.

An open air alert from a K-9 led to his arrest.

“HSI agents and TFOs conducted a search of the vehicle and located four packages concealed within an aftermarket compartment located within the dashboard of the vehicle,” the criminal complaint stated.

Investigators also tracked the vehicle to its owner, Cristian Ortiz of Pharr, records show.

“HSI Special Agents and TFOs interviewed Ortiz, who made numerous inconsistent statements and admitted to being involved in illegal activity. Ortiz stated he was to be paid $300 (USD) for crossing the vehicle and leaving the vehicle at Whataburger for an unknown person to take possession of the vehicle,” the document stated. “Ortiz stated he believed the person that took possession of his vehicle was going to conceal an unknown amount of currency in the vehicle that was destined for Mexico.”

Albino, 39, declined to give a statement to federal agents.

Ortiz, 24, is also scheduled for his detention hearing Wednesday.

If convicted of drug smuggling, the duo could face up to 10 years in federal prison.