Edward Schwartz Federal building
Edward J. Schwartz Federal building. Photo courtesy of Google Maps

A woman faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for smuggling 20 containers of an unregistered Mexican pesticide across the border, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego.

A jury convicted Veronica Perez, 40, of Hemet, Wednesday following a three-day trial in San Diego federal court. She stood accused of 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 the pesticide, used to kill rats, mice and other small animals, can cause death in humans, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Agency officials said 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 said the pesticide poses “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,” Adair said.

Perez also faces a maximum $500,000 fine.

– City News Service