Pro soccer player on Mexican team is charged with smuggling meth

A player for a professional soccer club in Tijuana has been arrested at the border and accused of trying to smuggle methamphetamine into the United States.

Daniel Gomez, a defender with Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente’s reserve team, was arrested April 5 and charged with importing a controlled substance. According to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California in San Diego, he tried to bring in nearly 48 pounds of packaged meth.

After a hearing on Tuesday, a judge ordered Gomez to remain detained because he was a flight risk, according to court records and the U.S. attorney’s office.

Gomez’s attorney and the team known as Xolos did not return requests for comment.

A U.S. citizen, Gomez was arrested after he tried to enter the U.S. from Mexico at the Otay Mesa border crossing, telling a Customs and Border Protection officer that he was traveling to the U.S. to work.

The officer searched Gomez’s car and noticed that the spare tire in its trunk had hard spots and wasn’t the usual weight, court records say. An officer cut the spare open and found 23 packages made of plastic wrap, carbon paper, cardboard and packing tape. A probe found a crystal substance that later tested positive for meth.

Special agents from the Department of Homeland Security interviewed Gomez, and he told them that he owned the car but had traded it away three months ago to an unnamed person, and then traded again to get it back around a month ago, court records say.

He told the agents that he had left his home in Tijuana and planned to have breakfast at a Denny’s restaurant by himself in National City before returning to Mexico for soccer practice later that morning. Gomez “claimed he did not know anything about the drugs in the vehicle,” according to records.

He was then arrested and charged with importing a controlled substance.

CBP inspected the car again and found 11 more packages in the panels. In all, the 34 packages weighted 47.75 pounds, records show.

joshua.stewart@sduniontribune.com

Stewart writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune

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