Tijuana cop to face U.S. federal court after heroin, meth arrest
(CNN) -- — A Tijuana, Mexico, police officer will appear in a U.S. federal court next week after being arrested on a charge of possession with intent to distribute almost 20 pounds of heroin and methamphetamine.
Noe Raygoza-Garcia, 33, was indicted Thursday and was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday, but because of "documentary snafu" was never transported from a prison in San Bernandino, California, said Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlo DiCesare. Raygoza-Garcia's arraignment was rescheduled to April 9.
According to an affidavit from U.S. Border Patrol agent Kevin Legg, authorities were conducting anti-smuggling operations on March 17 in Fallbrook, California. They were monitoring Interstate 15, a popular smuggling route, about 70 miles north of the Mexican border when Raygoza-Garcia passed in a red Dodge Neon.
"As the vehicle approached, the agents immediately noticed that the vehicle reduced its speed drastically," forcing cars behind it to go around, the affidavit said.
The Border Patrol agents pulled alongside the car and noticed a single key in the ignition, which can be a sign that a car contains contraband, the affidavit said.
The agents dropped about 10 car lengths behind the Neon, according to the affidavit, and noticed the driver cross over the dividing line.
"The agents believed that (Raygoza-Garcia) was fixated on the position of the marked service vehicle behind (him) instead of focusing on the road ahead of him," the affidavit said.
The agents pulled closer to the Neon and noticed the driver was driving 45 to 50 mph, "well below the posted speed limit," and Raygoza-Garcia "appeared to be gripping the steering wheel very tightly" when he passed a Riverside County police vehicle.
Using their laptop to check the vehicle, authorities learned it had crossed into the United States that morning. At the border, records showed, the driver was Eduardo Guadalupe Sanchez-Hernandez, who did not look like Raygoza-Garcia, the affidavit said.
They pulled over the vehicle, and when Raygoza-Garcia exited the vehicle, he "nearly fell to the ground and was shaking excessively," according to the affidavit. He told the agents he had a valid visa and was nervous about being pulled over, the affidavit said.
Raygoza-Garcia further told agents that he was going to San Bernandino to visit his dying uncle, but when asked the location, he said he didn't know, according to the affidavit. He also told agents that he had driven the car over the border himself and that the vehicle belonged to his friend, whom he knew only as "Eduardo," the affidavit said.
When agents told Raygoza-Garcia that records showed he had crossed the border as a pedestrian, he "started pacing and they noticed a change in the tone of his voice," the affidavit said.
He then recanted his story and said he borrowed his friend's car after crossing the border. He said he didn't know why he hadn't crossed with his friend, the affidavit said.
Asked if there was anything illegal in the car, Raygoza-Garcia said he didn't know and gave the agents permission to search it using a dog, the affidavit said. The dog indicated there were drugs in the car.
In the glove compartment, agents found a socket with a star-shaped pattern matching bolts in the rear seat area. They removed the backrest, where they found "bundles of narcotics," six square packages and five "misshapen, non-compressed packages," according to the affidavit.
The square ones tested positive for heroin and the misshapen ones tested positive for methamphetamine, the agents said in an affidavit.
The indictment says Raygoza-Garcia was charged with possessing 6 kilograms (13.2 pounds) of heroin and 2.8 kilograms (6.2 pounds) of methamphetamine.
Raygoza-Garcia's court-appointed federal public defender did not immediately return calls from CNN. Raygoza-Garcia is being held without bond and faces a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum penalty of life in prison if found guilty of possession with intent to distribute.
CNN's Elwyn Lopez contributed to this report.