men accused of stealing a tractor-trailer laden with $1.8 million
worth of cigarettes have pleaded guilty in federal court, The Gainesville Sun reported.
Rodriguez and Ricardo Sanchez, both of Hialeah, FL, pleaded guilty
Jan. 14 before U.S. District Judge Charles H. Haden II to charges
of aiding and abetting.
The pair were
among five men accused of trailing a semi loaded with 42,000 pounds
of cigarettes from Huntersville, NC, to a rest area on the West
Virginia Turnpike outside of Charleston Sept. 9, 2002.
When the truckdriver
went into the service plaza, Rodriguez and Sanchez broke into the
rig and hot-wired the ignition, The Sun reported.
They then drove north while their alleged accomplices followed them
in a van.
located the truck a short time later. Rodriguez and Sanchez were
apprehended after a short foot pursuit.
They face up
to five years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine when they are
sentenced in April, according to the newspaper. The other men also
are charged with theft of an interstate shipment in the case.