Macrina Perez hardly cuts an imposing presence.
But federal prosecutors are alleging that the 25-year-old mother of two, with roots in both Minnesota and Mexico, has in her young life managed to lead one of the biggest meth trafficking cells Minnesota has ever seen.
“Ms. Perez is as connected to Mexican drug cartels based on this evidence as anyone I have ever prosecuted, and it’s somewhat remarkable,” Assistant U.S. Attorney David Steinkamp told a judge this month in one of Perez’s first court appearances since being arrested in April at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Drug agents have been investigating the cell at least three years, and a May 2016 takedown of a Brooklyn Center stash house netted a historic 140 pounds of meth found throughout the home. Much of it was packed tightly into plastic quart-sized bags for distribution, but agents also found liquid meth cooling in a freezer and residue left behind in roasting pans in the kitchen.
Perez’s alleged involvement has been kept secret until now. She was charged nearly two years ago in a sealed indictment that relied on cooperation from several informants whose identities are still protected by the government.
“She wasn’t the courier,” Steinkamp said in court this month. “She’s the CEO of this organization. She’s running it.”