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Date: 04-17-2024

Case Style:

United States of America v. Jose Humberto Gandara

Case Number: 1:20-cr-00099

Judge: Halil S. Ozerden

Court: The United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi (Harrison County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: The United States Attorney’s Office in Gulfport

Defendant's Attorney: Karl C. Hightower


Gulfport, Mississippi criminal defense lawyer represented the Defendant charged with conspiring to possess with intent distribute cocaine.

Texas Man Sentenced to Statutory Maximum After Jury Trial.

In 2016, Jose Humberto Gandara, 52, was stopped in Gulfport while driving a 2012 Volkswagen Jetta. The Jetta contained almost $150,000 hidden in a concealed compartment located under the center console. Gandara initially denied any knowledge of the money. Officers then showed Gandara a pair of shoes, which they located in the hidden compartment. The officers previously cut the shoes to see if they contained a tracker. Gandara asked the officers why they cut his shoes, and when they confronted him with the fact that the shoes came from the hidden compartment, Gandara admitted to moving the money for a percentage. Gandara denied being involved with narcotics, but photographs from his phone appeared to depict bricks of cocaine.

In January of 2015, Gandara bought a different 2012 Volkswagen Jetta that was subsequently stopped at the border of Mexico/Texas. While Gandara was not driving that Jetta, the driver was an individual that Gandara had previously identified as his employee. Border Patrol agents found approximately 12 kilograms of cocaine in a hidden compartment, which matched the hidden compartment in the vehicle Gandara was driving in Gulfport.

Officers were also able to determine that in September of 2015, Gandara was stopped in Alabama with nearly $360,000. The money was divided into multiple bundles, each of which were wrapped in green plastic wrap and stuffed inside the front seats of the car Gandara was driving. Gandara again denied knowledge of the money, but the money found in the seats matched a bundle of money Gandara claimed from his duffle bag.

Subsequent investigation revealed that the $150,000 seized from Gandara in Gulfport was payment for cocaine that was interdicted in Louisiana, while bound for Moss Point, Mississippi. The evidence and testimony at trial showed that Gandara was acting on behalf of a source of supply, located in Texas, who was importing cocaine directly from Mexico and sending it on to Moss Point, Mississippi.

On January 11, 2024, after a trial, a federal jury convicted Jose Humberto Gandara of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Gandara faced a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Todd W. Gee of the Southern District of Mississippi and Special Agent in Charge Steven Hofer of the Drug Enforcement Administration made the announcement.

The DEA, United States Border Patrol, Gulfport Police Department, Louisiana State Police, and Alabama’s 17th Judicial Task Force Team investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Buckner and Hunter McCreight prosecuted the case.

This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor- led, intelligence driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.


Defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison

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