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Department of Justice: 2 charged in California to Cincinnati drug bust worth more than $1 million

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Posted at 11:30 AM, Jun 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-02 11:30:36-04

CINCINNATI — Two men are facing charges after police found more than 66 pounds of cocaine and at least 10 pounds of heroin inside an SUV on a truck traveling from California to Cincinnati, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

New York natives Maximo Pena Herrera, 40, and Joel Serrata Rosario, 27, were each charged with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute at least one kilogram of heroin and five kilograms or more of cocaine. Rosario was charged with a second count of possessing with the intent to distribute cocaine, according to Attorney Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.

Court documents from early May show law enforcement, including the DEA, conducted a traffic stop in Oklahoma. A drug dog alerted police to an SUV being transported on the truck. Investigators said they discovered 29 kilograms of cocaine and heroin with a street value of more than $1 million hidden inside the vehicle. They also found a GPS tracking device.

Investigators said the driver was coming from San Bernardino, California, and told them that all other cars on the truck were headed to New York. This specific car was a last-minute addition to the load and was the only vehicle scheduled to be dropped off in Cincinnati. The truck driver continued to cooperate with the investigators.

Law enforcement replaced the real drugs with fake drugs and placed a new GPS tracking device in the vehicle and the driver continued his delivery as planned, according to court documents.

When the driver got to the Cincinnati area, he made the delivery. Herrera and Rosario allegedly picked up the vehicle and paid the truck driver nearly $2,000, according to the Department of Justice. Investigators said Herrera told them an inmate in a New York jail instructed them to transport the drugs.

When law enforcement searched Rosario's hotel in Cincinnati, agents discovered three more kilograms of cocaine.

If convicted, Herrera and Rosario could face anywhere from 10 years to life in prison.

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