CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A 23-year-old Corpus Christi man
has been ordered to federal prison for possession with intent to distribute
cocaine and carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking offense, announced
U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. A federal jury convicted Roman Valdez following
a two-day trial and approximately one hour of deliberations May 21, 2019.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos handed Valdez a
12-month sentence for the drug charges. He also received an additional 60
months for the firearms offense which must be
served consecutively for a total sentence of 72 months in federal prison. The
sentence will be immediately
followed by three years of supervised release.
During the trial, the jury heard testimony from multiple
law enforcement officers.
On Nov. 14, 2018, at approximately 3:00 p.m., they
discovered Valdez passed out behind the wheel of his vehicle at a traffic light
in front of Flour Bluff Elementary School as students were being released. When
the officers opened the door to check on him, he became combative and began
reaching around inside the vehicle. During the struggle, officers discovered a
loaded handgun between the driver’s seat and the center console.
Law enforcement secured the firearm but Valdez continued
to reach behind the driver’s seat. He was ultimately removed from the vehicle
and taken into custody.
When officers searched his vehicle, they discovered
multiple bags of white powder, a black tar substance, a bag of synthetic
cannabinoids, assorted prescription pills, small bags, a digital scale and a
second loaded handgun in the back seat.
The controlled substances were sent to the Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) Laboratory. Testing confirmed the substances
were cocaine, heroin and 5F-MDMB-PICA – a synthetic
The defense attempted to convince the jury Valdez
possessed the cocaine for personal use and the firearms were not related to any
of the drugs. They did not believe those claims and found him guilty as
Synthetic cannabinoids are chemical compounds that mimic
the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. These chemical compounds can be
applied to carrier mediums such as plant material and ingested using rolling
papers, pipes, vaporizers or otherwise taken orally. Synthetic cannabinoids are
usually sold in small, foil or plastic bags containing dried leaves (resembling
potpourri) and is marketed as incense that can be smoked. It is commonly sold
and known on the street as synthetic marijuana, fake weed, legal and by its
popular brand names such as Spice, K2, Kush, Klimaxx and many others.
In custody since his arrest, Valdez will remain in
custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined
in the near future.
The Corpus Christi Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Drug Enforcement Administration
conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lance Watt and Joel Dunn
are prosecuting the case.