PHOENIX, AZ. – Jose Rosendo Segundo-Orellana, 50, of Los Angeles, was found guilty today by a federal jury of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The case was tried before U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Martone. Sentencing is set for January 13, 2012.
On September 25, 2010, Segundo-Orellana drove a semi-tractor trailer to a border-patrol checkpoint on Highway 95 between Yuma and Quartzite, Ariz. The truck was referred to secondary inspection where Border Patrol agents found 57 kilograms of cocaine hidden within bundles of lumber inside of the trailer. When asked, Segundo-Orellana was unable to provide a bill of lading or a delivery address and provided inconsistent answers regarding his employment. Both Segundo-Orellana and the passenger in the truck (co-defendant Sigifredo Gutierrez-Garcia) denied any knowledge of the cocaine. However, the co-defendant later pleaded guilty. According to the Border Patrol agents involved, this was one of the largest vehicle cocaine seizures in Arizona, with an estimated wholesale value of $1.3 million.
A conviction for possessing with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years in federal prison, and a maximum penalty of up to life in prison, a $10,000,000 fine, or both. In determining the actual sentence, Judge Martone will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
The investigation leading to the guilty verdict was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Border Patrol with assistance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations. The prosecution was initially handled by Charles Galbraith, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona. The trial attorneys for the United States were Mark Kokanovich and James Morse, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona.