Metro-East News

Belleville man attempted to smuggle drugs across border to pay off debt, police say

A 56-year-old Belleville man attempted to smuggle more than 11 kilograms of cocaine across the United States-Mexico border to pay off a debt in early June, according to federal border patrol agents.

Jeffrey Layne Parker was stopped by an agent in the early morning hours of June 7 in a 2010 white Ford F-150 pickup truck at a border patrol checkpoint approximately 20 miles north of Laredo, Texas. During the vehicle inspection, Agent Brandon Ramos wrote in a criminal complaint, a police canine named Basto alerted a fellow agent of possible contraband or hidden people in the truck.

Upon further searching, agents reported finding 11.15 kilograms of cocaine taped up into nine bundles behind one of the truck’s radio speakers.

He was then interviewed and booked into Webb County Jail. He told the agents he knew he was transporting the drugs and was doing so in order to pay off a debt he owed someone, according to police reports filed.

Elizabeth Kaufman, spokesperson for the Illinois Secretary of State office, confirmed Parker lived in Belleville on South 20th Street. She also said his license was canceled May 1 of this year because he failed to submit a copy of his medical examiner’s certificate, which all commercial drivers are required to have.

He faces four charges, including two counts of possessing more than five kilograms of cocaine with the intent to distribute it and two counts of possessing 1 kilogram or more of fentanyl and heroin with intent to distribute it on March 7 and again in June.

Court records indicate if convicted Parker faces 10 years to life in prison. He is scheduled for a hearing Aug. 31 where he will plead guilty or not guilty.