Driver Pleads Guilty to Possessing $1 Million Worth of Heroin While Traveling Through Maryland
Largest Seizure Ever of Heroin Found in a Traffic Stop by Maryland State Police
Baltimore, Maryland - Jose Gomez, age 42, of Orlando, Florida, pleaded guilty today to possession with intent to distribute heroin in connection with 11.96 kilograms of heroin hidden in a vehicle that Gomez was driving through Maryland, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
According to the plea agreement, on February 5, 2008 a Maryland State Trooper stopped Gomez for speeding on Interstate 95 in Harford County, Maryland and for following a tractor-trailer too closely. Gomez appeared very nervous and avoided eye contact with the trooper. Gomez stated that he was traveling from Orlando, Florida to Manhattan, New York. A certified canine called to the scene alerted for the presence of drugs and 11.96 kilograms of heroin were discovered in a hidden compartment located in the vehicle. The seized heroin has a street value of over $1 million.
Gomez faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release and a $4 million fine, and a maximum sentence of life in prison. U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. has scheduled sentencing for July 25, 2008 at 11:00 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Maryland State Police Proactive Criminal Enforcement (PACE) Team for its investigative work. The PACE Team is a unit of troopers who are specially trained to patrol Maryland highways to identify, interdict and apprehend fugitives, drug smugglers, gun runners and other criminals. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorney A. David Copperthite, who is prosecuting the case.