3 accused of mailing meth to Hawaii in dummy heads

HONOLULU (AP) - There was something unusual about three mannequin heads found inside a UPS parcel being mailed from San Bernardino, Calif., to Hawaii: They each had two pounds of methamphetamine stuffed inside them, authorities said.

Now, three men in face drug charges in Hawaii. One of the men, Anthony Buzio Sanchez, pleaded guilty in federal court in Honolulu on Monday to a charge of attempted possession with intent to distribute.

Through a Spanish-speaking interpreter, Sanchez said he intended to sell the drugs to pay for his father's cancer treatment. Sanchez, who said he was born in Mexico and is living in the United States illegally, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison when he's sentenced in June.

On May 6, a Riverside County Sheriff's deputy intercepted a cardboard box being mailed from San Bernardino to Honolulu, according to a criminal complaint.

Once a deputy sheriff got a California search warrant, investigators found inside shirts, shorts, slippers, towels and three boxes individually wrapped in pink and gold paper. The wrapped boxes "each contained a mannequin head with about two pounds of methamphetamine inside, totaling 2,932 grams of methamphetamine," the court document said.

After the drugs were discovered, the contents were mailed by FedEx to federal agents in Honolulu, where an undercover agent posing as a delivery man brought the parcel to the Honolulu address for which it was originally destined.

No one answered the door during two attempts to deliver the package. On the third attempt, a man identified in court papers as Carlos Gallego signed for the parcel.

On May 9, agents followed Gallego as he drove the box about 19 miles to a home in Waipahu, where the other men were arrested.

Sanchez, Gallego and Miguel Angel Rios Ruiz were indicted that month. They initially pleaded not guilty to the meth-distribution charge. Gallego was scheduled for a pretrial conference on Monday and his attorney didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Ruiz is scheduled to change his plea on Friday.

"He had nothing to do with this," Sanchez said of Ruiz but didn't elaborate.

Sanchez told the judge he paid Gallego $5,000 to receive the parcel and deliver it to the Waipahu home.

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Follow Jennifer Sinco Kelleher at http://www.twitter.com/JenHapa.


(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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