A year-old cocaine trafficking conviction of a New York man has been overturned and charges dismissed by a 5th District Court judge.
Sigifredo Eduardo Sierra, 27, of Island Park, N.Y., was originally sentenced to one-to-15 years in prison. But on Monday Judge Philip Eves ordered all charges against Sierra dismissed for lack of evidence.Prosecutors at the time said 32 pounds of cocaine, valued at $5 million to $8 million, had been found in Sierra's car.
The case is one of two before Eves this summer in which the Utah Court of Appeals has questioned the legality of the actions of the Utah Highway Patrol troopers who pulled over suspected drug runners.
Sierra was originally found guilty of transporting cocaine with intent to sell after cocaine packaged in plastic bags was discovered in a secret compartment above the gas tank of a car he was driving.
However, the Utah court of appeals overruled the findings, saying the UHP trooper who pulled Sierra over stopped him illegally. The court found the trooper did not normally pull people over to warn them that driving consistently in the left lane on the freeway is illegal in Utah.
The Court of Appeals further ruled that searches of the trunk and the exterior of the car were legal because Sierra gave his consent. But the additional search of the inside and bottom of the car was not legal because there was not enough evidence to justify a search.