UPDATED: Oakland man indicted on narcotics charges

By John Lavanga / A&E Editor

A federal grand jury in Pittsburgh has indicted an Oakland man on two charges of violating narcotics laws.

According to an affidavit filed by U.S. Homeland Security Invesigations, Carmelo Rojas-Perez, 31, was in possession of about a kilogram of methamphetamine smuggled to him from Mexico. The drug was allegedly hidden within the frames of two religious pictures, according to a statement U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton’s Office released Wednesday.

The affidavit states that on Aug. 27, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers were first alerted to a smuggling attempt when they examined a FedEx package addressed to Las Palmas on 326 Atwood St. in Pittsburgh. After discovering the presence of methamphetamine in a picture frame enclosed in the package, Border Protection officers contacted Homeland Security Investigations in Memphis, Tenn., who then forwarded the item to Pittsburgh.

In Pittsburgh, a Pennsylvania state trooper posing as a FedEx deliveryman delivered the package to Las Palmas on Aug. 28. After observing a man pick up the parcel from Las Palmas and carry it to an apartment above the store, Homeland Security Investigations officers forcibly breached the door and entered the apartment, where they found Rojas-Perez along with the package and two other men. Rojas-Perez was then detained on immigration charges pending further investigation.

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According to the affidavit, the crystal methamphetamine was found wrapped in black packaging in a rectangular arrangement, then stored in the large wooden frames of two pictures depicting religious figures. The affidavit also claims that an additional picture resembling the two shipped to his home was found next to his bed.

If Rojas-Perez is found guilty of the charges, he could face a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. The maximum sentence for the crime is life in prison and a $10 million fine.

Rojas-Perez was arrested at his home on the 300 block of Atwood Street.

The statement from Hickton’s office did not indicate the date Rojas-Perez was arrested.

Perez-Rojas is currently in custody. His arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 2.