A federal jury last week convicted a trucker for possessing
cocaine with an estimated street value of more than $28 million.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,
Jasper Vargas, 41, of Mission, TX, was on the road in November 2004 when ICE
agents learned that a tractor-trailer with drugs was headed to Chicago from
Vargas was stopped by Illinois State Police for speeding as
he drove north on Interstate 57. Police and ICE agents searched Vargas' reefer
trailer and found 157 bundles of cocaine hidden in a "secret compartment in the
trailer's refrigeration unit," a news release stated.
Vargas' trailer had 620 pounds of cocaine, which officers
estimated was worth $5.5 million wholesale and $28 million in "street value."
In the federal court trial, a witness testified that Vargas
admitted transporting cocaine to Chicago for a Mexican drug cartel. Witnesses
said they'd seen Vargas haul large illegal loads by covering up contraband with
produce in his reefer trailer.
Vargas was convicted by a jury in Urbana, IL, of possessing
more than five kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute. With three
previous felony drug convictions, Vargas faces a mandatory sentence of life in
prison without parole and a fine of $8 million, according to the ICE press