San Antonio woman’s bond denied in meth smuggling case

Claims she joined friends in Reynosa for birthday party

McALLEN — A San Antonio woman remains in custody after a bond hearing Tuesday in federal court, records show.

Debra Ann Sauceda will remain in federal custody after a court denied bond for her during a detention hearing Tuesday related to a drug smuggling case, records show.

The court’s decision will leave Sauceda in custody pending the outcome of a drug smuggling case, in which the 50-year-old woman and two others have been implicated in, records show.

Sauceda, along with Lucille Nicole Mendoza, 39, and Julian Santiago Espinoza Jr., 28, also of San Antonio, were arrested May 31 at the port of entry in Pharr after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the port discovered a sizable amount of methamphetamine inside the vehicle they were traveling in, records show.

Just before midnight on the aforementioned date, Mendoza, driving an SUV and with Sauceda, and Espinoza as her passengers, made a negative declaration of prohibited items to CBP officers, and was subsequently sent for a secondary inspection.

During the secondary inspection, CBP officers, with the use of a K9 unit, were alerted to the presence of potential narcotics near the front of the SUV driven by Mendoza, the complaint stated.

“Further inspection utilizing X-Ray revealed anomalies in the battery area of the vehicle. The battery was inspected, and it was revealed that it had been altered and contained packages of an unknown substance,” the complaint stated.

CBP officers removed the battery and extracted the packages found within the battery that later tested positive for methamphetamine, records show.

“The contents of the packages field tested positive for the properties of methamphetamine, weighing approximately 5.02 kilograms,” the complaint stated.

The following day, June 1, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agents interviewed the trio separately in connection with the meth found inside the vehicle they were traveling in.

Sauceda told agents she became acquaintances with Mendoza and Espinoza in San Antonio; and was traveling with them to Reynosa, Mexico for Mendoza’s aunt’s birthday party.

“She stated they went to Reynosa, Mexico and attended the party,” the record shows.

But after several changes to her story, Sauceda told agents that she had been hired by a female identified as “Elena,” who is “Baldo’s” girlfriend, to go to Mexico pick up something illegal and transport it into the U.S.

Sauceda said she was going to be paid $300 for her role in the transport.

“Sauceda stated she spoke to other individuals who also had been hired by ‘Baldo,’ and they stated they had transported vehicles for him. Sauceda stated that while at the hotel, she, Mendoza, and Espinoza, were informed that they would all be paid for their participation,” the complaint stated. “They were instructed to follow some males to a location in Mexico and park inside of a building. There, Sauceda witnessed an unknown male pull out the battery of the vehicle and replace it with another one.”

If convicted of the smuggling charge, Sauceda faces up to 10 years in federal prison.