New Jersey Man Pleads Guilty After Suitcase with Three Kilos of Cocaine is Found on Bus
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Jersey City, New Jersey, man whose suitcase, which contained more than three kilograms of cocaine, was found aboard a bus traveling through Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
Jose A. Cordero, 31, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Greg Kays to one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.
Officers of the Missouri Western Interdictions and Narcotics Task Force (MoWIN) were conducting interdiction activities at a Kansas City, Mo., bus station on Oct. 22, 2018. As passengers debarked from a bus that originated in Los Angeles, California, officers used a drug-sniffing police dog to conduct an open-air check of the luggage on the bottom compartment of the bus. The dog alerted to a black Samsonite suitcase with a Newark, N.J., destination tag. However, none of the passengers on the bus claimed ownership of the suitcase. Cordero was not a passenger on the bus.
Detectives considered the suitcase abandoned and searched its contents to identify the owner. Inside the suitcase, detectives found three sealed mailing envelopes that contained a total of 6.63 pounds (3,009.73 grams) of cocaine.
Detectives also found a United Airlines bar code label on the suitcase that identified the owner of the suitcase as “Jo Cordero Jr.” Cordero had flown on United Airlines from Newark to Los Angeles on Oct. 8, 2018. Cordero departed Los Angeles to return to Newark on Oct. 19 and the cocaine was found on the bus in Kansas City, which had traveled for 36 hours, on Oct. 22.
During a forensic examination of the suitcase and its contents, investigators identified Cordero’s DNA from the waistband of a pair of underwear and his fingerprints from one of the bundles of cocaine.
During the investigation, another individual who was on the bus, Sergio Gonzalez-Bedolla, 24, of Chowchilla, Calif., was found in possession of 2.8 kilograms of heroin in his backpack. Gonzalez-Bedolla pleaded guilty in a separate and unrelated case and was sentenced to six years in federal prison without parole.
Under federal statutes, Cordero is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 40 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the MoWIN Task Force, and the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.