A 54-year-old man accused of transporting more than $200,000 worth of cocaine and fentanyl into Riverside County was charged Friday with two counts of possession of controlled substances for sale and other drug charges.
Jose Isabel Ramirez was arrested Wednesday by U.S. Border Patrol agents following a traffic stop on Interstate 15 in Temecula.
Along with the possession counts, Ramirez is charged with two counts of transportation of narcotics for sale and sentence-enhancing allegations of possessing more than one kilogram of cocaine.
The defendant pleaded not guilty, and Superior Court Judge Stephen Gallon scheduled a felony settlement conference for Oct. 21 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.
According to U.S. Border Patrol Agent Theron Francisco, agents spotted the defendant’s 2009 Ford Escape on northbound I-15, heading into Temecula, shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesdayand stopped him based on unspecified suspicions of illegal activity.
While questioning Ramirez, the patrolmen noticed unusual patterns in the rear seat head rests, prompting a search of the defendant’s SUV, Francisco said.
He alleged that metal boxes were discovered in the head rests, and stuffed inside the boxes were a dozen plastic-wrapped packages.
“Nine of the packages contained fentanyl and weighed 22 pounds, which is enough doses to kill more than 5 million people,” the agent said. “The remaining three packages contained cocaine and weighed 2.64 pounds. The drugs carry a combined estimated street value of $236,400.”
Ramirez was arrested on the spot without incident.
The seized drugs and investigation were turned over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The defendant, who has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County, is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail at the Byrd Detention Center.