Tip leads to cocaine bust after traffic stop

Federal authorities say three Florida men staying in a Brownsville hotel were neither on vacation nor on a legitimate business trip.

Instead of staying at the Hampton Inn & Suites off of Expressway 77, the trio is now in the custody of the U.S. Marshals and facing cocaine distribution charges.

Juan Guzman, of Bartow, Fla.; Rudys Lopez, of Fort Myers, Fla.; and Alexander Luis Medina, of Ruskin, Fla., are charged with possession with the intent to distribute a little more than 22 pounds of cocaine and conspiracy to do the same.

According to a criminal complaint against the Floridians, who made first appearances Wednesday morning, the Brownsville Police Department on Monday received a tip that Guzman and two others staying at the hotel were in possession of cocaine.

The BPD’s Special Investigations Unit set up surveillance in the hotel’s parking lot the following morning and watched Guzman and Lopez get into a gray Toyota SUV and drive away.

The officers followed the pair as they left at 8:45 a.m. and about a half-hour later a Brownsville PD canine unit observed the vehicle near the 2200 block of North Frontage Road fail to signal a lane change and initiated a traffic stop at 2430 Pablo Kisel Boulevard, according to the criminal complaint.

Guzman and Lopez appeared nervous and twice denied officers consent to search the vehicle, but the canine alerted to the presence of narcotics so police removed the men from the vehicle, court documents indicate.

The search revealed a backpack with six “brick-like bundles” wrapped in cellophane and black tape weighing a little more than 14 pounds, authorities say.

The Brownsville PD officers contacted Drug Enforcement Administration agents, who, armed with a state search warrant, went to the Hampton Inn & Suites and found Medina inside a hotel room and in possession of nearly eight pounds of cocaine, according to the criminal complaint.

The trio is being held without bond pending probable cause and detention hearings scheduled for June 17, court records indicate.