U.S. Magistrate Ronald Boyce ordered two Latin Americans held pending continuation of a hearing next week on a charge of possessing 50 kilograms of cocaine with the intent to distribute it.
Hernan Alvarez and Eugenio D. Raigosa-Zapata were arrested Thursday afternoon at a roadblock on I-70 in Emery County. Emery County Deputy Sheriff Richard Graham asked and received permission to search a 1979 station wagon driven by Alvarez.Raigosa-Zapata is from Columbia. Alvarez, a passenger in the car, said in court he is from Venezuela, but prosecutors think he is a Columbian, too.
According to a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. attorney's office, Graham discovered a small amount of cocaine in a duffle bag.
The car was then searched more carefully. According to the document, a drug-sniffing dog alerted officers to the rear area of the station wagon, where they found approximately 60 kilograms of cocaine in a hidden compartment.
In the hearing, Boyce said Raigosa-Zapata is "on parole for a prior offense. He is a native of Columbia." Boyce said he is not certain Raigosa-Zapata is legally in the country.
On Alvarez, the magistrate ruled, "He is illegal. There is an INS (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service) detainer on him. He's been in the country since 1985. He has a wife and a family, but he has major connections to Columbia."
Defense lawyer James Esparza asked for a continuation in the hearing until Wednesday. The prosecutor, Richard McKelvie, said he has no problem with that.
Boyce said the preliminary hearing will continue at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Meanwhile, defendants will be held in the Salt Lake Jail.