Man gets five years for smuggling cocaine inside big-screen TVs

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — A five-year prison sentence has been ordered for a man caught smuggling about 57 pounds of cocaine in big-screen televisions.

David Salas Tapia Jr. was arrested Oct. 13 when a Harrison County sheriff’s deputy pulled him over on a traffic stop. Authorities say Tapia was driving east on Interstate 10 and towing a trailer. Authorities say the cocaine was hidden inside the televisions.

U.S. District Judge Walter J. Gex III of Gulfport gave Tapia the maximum penalty for his guilty plea to interstate travel in aid of unlawful activity Wednesday. As part of a plea bargain, the judge dismissed a drug distribution charge.

The Sun Herald said court documents indicate the case is part of a wider investigation.

An investigator testified that Tapia told him he had been hired to deliver the cocaine to Atlanta and expected to be paid $7,000 or more for the delivery.

Court documents show Tapia also allegedly told investigators that he was pulled over in Meridian, Miss., a year earlier and authorities confiscated $166,000 he was taking back to Texas after making a similar haul.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

The Associated Press