A Riverside County woman is facing a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for smuggling 20 containers of an unregistered Mexican pesticide across the border into the United States, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego.
Veronica Perez, 40, of Hemet, was convicted Wednesday following a three-day jury trial in San Diego federal court for concealing zinc phosphide in her purse as she attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border on July 11, 2019.
Ingestion of small amounts of zinc phosphide, which is used to kill rats, mice and other small animals, can cause death in humans, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which says seven drops to one teaspoon of the chemical “would likely kill a 150-pound person.”
Special Agent in Charge Scot Adair of the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in California said, “The pesticides involved in this case pose serious public health and environmental dangers. The verdict in this case demonstrates that individuals who intentionally violate smuggling and environmental protection laws will be held responsible for their crimes.”
A sentencing date was not immediately announced.