Presidio County woman pleads guilty to trafficking meth, fentanyl 

ALPINE — On Friday, Cherakee Lee Perez, a Presidio County woman, pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl. Her sentencing is set for October, where she faces 10 years to life in prison. 

Fentanyl is a narcotic that in recent years has increasingly entered the supply of street narcotics, resulting in an epidemic of overdoses. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, fentanyl overdose is the leading cause of death among Americans under 50 and represented 67% of overdose deaths in 2021.

Perez was arrested on January 12 at the Presidio Port of Entry. At the initial checkpoint, she told the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer on duty that she had nothing to declare, and that she was headed to Oklahoma from Camargo, Chihuahua. 

She was flagged for secondary inspection, where she reiterated that she had nothing to declare. A narcotics dog alerted on the bumper and center console of the car. Further investigation revealed 29 packages of meth weighing 4.5 kilograms and 13 packages of fentanyl weighing 7 kilograms. 

Perez was arrested and gave a statement admitting to transporting narcotics, telling officers that she would get $7,000 for delivering the drugs to Oklahoma and that she had successfully smuggled drugs through the Presidio Port of Entry before.

Homeland Security Investigations Task Force Officer Michael McCall filed a criminal complaint alleging importation of methamphetamine and fentanyl from another country into the United States as well as possession with intent to distribute each drug. 

Possession of 400 grams of methamphetamine or more than 500 grams of fentanyl carries a felony charge, carrying a minimum of 10 years prison time. Perez’s northbound shipments included over 11 times the amount required for felony possession of methamphetamine and 14 times the amount of fentanyl. 

Perez was detained without bond, and in February pleaded not guilty. On Friday, under the advice of counsel, she entered a guilty plea. 

The large seizure comes on the heels of increased concern about the smuggling of fentanyl into the United States from Mexico. 

In November of last year, Presidio County Chief Deputy Joel Nuñez gave a presentation about the dangers of fentanyl to parents at Presidio High School. At the time, he cautioned that fentanyl was near — but had not yet been detected in Presidio County. 

Just a few weeks later, a driver was intercepted at the Presidio Port of Entry with 32 pounds of methamphetamine and two pounds of fentanyl. Perez’s arrest just a few months later drastically escalated the scale of the drug moving through the port. 

Though relatively young, the upward trend at the Presidio Port of Entry reflects patterns at other ports of entry along the United States-Mexico border. According to statistics from Customs and Border Protection, fentanyl seizures at the border are on track to double by weight from last year’s numbers. 

Perez’s attorney did not return a request for comment by press time.