McALLEN — A Massachusetts man faces federal drug smuggling charges for his role in attempting to transport fentanyl from Mexico to Massachusetts, court records show.
Wilmar Chum, 29, was scheduled for a pre-trial hearing in his drug conspiracy case Tuesday, according to the federal court docket.
FBI agents arrested Chum and two others, Andy Phan, and Londy Neang, on Aug. 5, 2019 in Katy, Texas after they arrived at a hotel to allegedly pick up what they believed was 2 kilos of fentanyl.
Weeks earlier, FBI agents, through the use of a cooperating source, referred to as “CD” in Chum’s criminal complaint, were conducting an investigation into the Rolando Palomo drug trafficking organization, referred to as the Palomo DTO in the complaint.
“Since or about July 24, 2019, FBI agents have been investigating the Palomo DTO,” the complaint stated. “This drug trafficking organization operates out of Tamaulipas, Mexico and in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) of Texas.”
Agents allege the Palomo DTO is responsible for large quantities of illegal drugs in the United States.
On Aug. 1, 2019, Palomo arranged to meet the FBI’s source at Palomo’s residence in Pharr.
During the visit, Palomo gave the confidential source 2 kilos of fentanyl.
“Later that day Palomo called the CD and told him the fentanyl was to be delivered to Houston,” the complaint stated.
Four days later, Palomo sent the CD a text message about a phone number he was to call and to “tell him that you are calling on behalf of a friend,” the document stated.
Later that day, the CD called the number and arranged with the person on the other end to meet on Aug. 5, 2019 at the Palace Inn Motel in Katy.
A black SUV arrived at the motel at about 2 p.m. that day.
The driver and passenger, later identified as Phan and Neang, respectively, got out of the vehicle.
“The CD asked Phan, ‘Do you got something to put it in,’ and Phan responded ‘Yeah,’ Neang got in the front seat of the CD’s vehicle and gave the CD $3,000,” the complaint stated. “The CD gave Neang two kilograms of fake fentanyl and told Neang, ‘just be careful because this sh** ain’t no coke, huh, this is f***** fentanyl or something.’”
They grabbed the fake fentanyl and got back into their vehicle, and subsequently pulled over by a Harris County constable.
“The constables identified Phan, Neang, and a third passenger, (Wilmar) Chum,” the complaint stated.
While the constables removed the bag of drugs from the vehicle, Phan and Chum were placed in the back of a patrol unit.
“While still in the back of the constable’s vehicle, Chum remarked, ‘Man, I’m going to jail for a while. F***. We should have never passed the cops. We should have stayed behind them,’” the complaint stated.
The following month, in September 2019, Phan, Palomo and Neang were arrested based on the criminal complaint.
On Jan. 22, Phan told federal agents that prior to his arrest on Aug. 5, 2019, Neang and Chum told Phan they were coming from Massachusetts to visit him in Houston.
“Once they arrived in Houston they told Phan that they were there to pick up drugs. Neang and Chum told Phan they planned (to) rent a car and drive the drugs back to Massachusetts together,” the document stated. “Neang was being paid $2,000 to transport drugs and offered to pay Phan for his role of transporting around Houston. After the traffic stop, Neang and Chum were depressed and flew back to Massachusetts.”
Chum, if convicted, could face between five and 10 years in prison.