Published January 13, 2015
Federal agents have arrested a man on charges of drug trafficking after finding a statue of Jesus made of cocaine at a Texas border crossing.
Bernardino Garcia-Cordova, 61, was arraigned Tuesday on charges of cocaine importation, possession with intent to distribute cocaine and conspiracy after an investigation by Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
According to the criminal report filed by U.S. officials Tuesday, Garcia-Cordova offered a woman $80 to transport two religious statues across the border and deliver them to him at a bus station in Laredo, Texas.
A drug-sniffing dog alerted Border Patrol agents of the presence of drugs in a box that contained two religious figurines. One of those statues, a Jesus figure weighing 3 kilograms, was found to be made of cocaine.
"This seizure goes to show what extreme measures people will go through to smuggle drugs," said Janice Ayala, deputy special agent-in-charge of ICE's investigations office.
The Houston Chronicle reports that the statue was likely to have been broken apart in water, sifted through a strainer and dried before being bagged and sold. It had a street value of $30,000, the paper said.
Garcia-Cordova, a Mexican national, reportedly told officials the Jesus figure was destined for a Dallas drug dealer named "La Araña" or The Spider, according to the Chronicle.
If convicted, Garcia-Cordova faces between five and 40 years in jail on each charge, as well as a $2 million fine.