BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, PA – Sometimes when you pull the handle on a slot machine, you just get lucky and thankfully for the Lehigh Valley area, the Bedminster Police Department did just that during a routine traffic stop Friday night.
According to police, a Bedminster Township patrol officer led to a drug investigation that took nearly $4 million worth of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl off the streets and it all started with the officer noticing some erratic driving.
“Bedminster Township officer James Zukow pulled over the Jeep for swerving four times over the fog line and the driver consented to a search, which led to the seizure of one kilogram of heroin/fentanyl and nine kilograms of cocaine with a street value of $1.2 million,” the Bedminster Police Deparmtent said. “That bust led to a search of a tractor-trailer Wednesday night at a truck stop in Lehigh County where detectives found nine more kilograms of heroin/fentanyl valued at $2.7 million. In addition to a large amount of drugs, the two searches led to the recovery of more than $43,000 in cash, a handgun. six cellphones, additional drugs, including almost $29,000 in Percocet pills, and four Jesus Malverde candles, known as the Patron Saint of narco-traffickers,” District Attorney Matt Weintraub said at a news conference on Thursday.
Weintraub called the bust a “great instinctual police work, some hard work and collaboration among law enforcement.”
DA Weintraub said the investigation revealed Christian Ochoa, 28, of Laredo, Texas, drove the drugs across the country, which were likely headed to New York. He was likely just “passing through” Bucks County when he was stopped.
“We saved somebody else a lot of heartache and pain,” he said.
Edith Tomasa Rodriguez Cardenas, 27, of Huntington Park, California, was a passenger in his car during the traffic stop. Weintraub said the arrests were likely part of a much larger narco-trafficking organization and he will utilize partnerships with federal agencies to track the source of the drugs.
Ochoa and Rodriguez Cardenas were charged Friday night in the initial traffic stop with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, conspiracy to commit possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, possession of a small amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Ochoa was also charged with a lane violation. Both were arraigned by District Judge Michael W. Petrucci and were sent to Bucks County Correctional Facility under $1 million bail each.
Criminal charges might not be what the couple fears most at this point in their life as losing a $4,000,000 shipment of cartel drugs is never a great way to start a weekend.