Driver, foreign national sentenced for cocaine hauls

| 12/10/2008

Two men driving a commercial truck containing cocaine earlier this year were sentenced this month to serve several years each in prison.

On April 18, two men were pulled over and arrested by the Kansas Highway Patrol on Interstate 35 and charged with multiple drug counts – including possession with intent to distribute cocaine, aiding and abetting, and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

On Tuesday, Jorge Martinez-Soto, was sentenced to serve six years in federal prison after pleading guilty to “travel in interstate commerce to distribute cocaine,” according to the Wichita Eagle. Martinez-Soto, of El Paso TX, reportedly admitted to being hired to haul drugs to Wichita in a 1997 Kenworth truck that had “TJ Express” etched on the truck’s side.

Authorities found the truck loaded with used tires and cocaine, the Eagle reported.

According to FMCSA records, Martinez-Soto was the only driver registered to TJ Express of El Paso.

Running general freight loads as an interstate operation, Martinez-Soto’s truck was inspected eight times and put out of service once. 

Martinez-Soto himself, however, was put out of service five times out of 12 inspections, tallying a 41.7 percent out-of-service rate.

The national average for drivers being put out of service in 2005-2006 was 6.8 percent.

In early December, U.S. Senior District Judge Wesley Brown sentenced Ricardo Villalobos-Rodriguez, 23, also of El Paso, to five years in federal prison after his guilty plea to travel in interstate commerce to distribute cocaine.

Villalobos-Rodriguez was in Martinez-Soto’s truck at the time of the arrest.

According to court records, Villalobos-Rodriguez also agreed to be taken into custody by Immigration and Naturalization Services for deportation proceedings following his prison sentence.

Villalobos-Rodriguez’s plea agreement also stipulates that he forfeit all rights for himself or others to request or receive from any U.S. department or agency any records pertaining to his prosecution, including “any records that may be sought under the Freedom of Information Act.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer