A 54-year-old man accused of transporting more than $230,000 worth of cocaine and fentanyl into Riverside County must stand trial on two counts of possession of controlled substances for sale, among other offenses, a judge ruled Friday.
Jose Isabel Ramirez was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents during an October traffic stop on Interstate 15 in Temecula.
At the end of a preliminary hearing, Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell found there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial on the possession counts, as well as two counts of transportation of narcotics for sale and multiple sentence-enhancing allegations of possessing more than one kilogram of cocaine.
The judge scheduled a post-preliminary hearing arraignment for March 6 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.
Ramirez is free on a $250,000 bond.
According to U.S. Border Patrol Agent Theron Francisco, on the afternoon of Oct. 9, agents spotted the defendant’s 2009 Ford Escape on northbound I-15, heading into Temecula, and stopped him based on unspecified suspicions of illegal activity.
While questioning Ramirez, the patrolmen noticed unusual patterns in the rear seat head supports, prompting a search of the defendant’s SUV, Francisco said.
Francisco alleged metal boxes were discovered in the head supports, 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 taken into custody without incident.
The seized drugs and investigation were turned over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The defendant has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.