A truck driver has been sentenced to state prison after he was caught with millions of dollars worth of illegal drugs in Pennsylvania.
On Tuesday, March 29, 2022, Texas-based trucker Christian Ochoa, 29, was sentenced to 7 ½ to 15 years in state prison. Ochoa was convicted on two counts each of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and criminal conspiracy and one count each of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, firearms not to be carried without license and possession of a weapon.
Ochoa and co-defendent California-resident Edith Tomasa Rodriguez Cardenas, 28, were arrested on January 29, 2021.
The incident leading to the arrest began when an officer with the Bedminster Township Police Department noticed Ochoa swerving while behind the wheel of a rented Jeep Wrangler in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Rodriguez Cardenas was a passenger in the Jeep when it was pulled over.
Following a search, police seized fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine found inside the Jeep.
This drug seizure led police to search a tractor trailer owned by Ochoa which was parked at a truck stop in Lehigh County. Police found an additional eight kilograms of fentanyl and one kilogram of heroin inside.
In addition to the 19 kilograms 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, Buck County authorities said.
The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release that the value of the seized drugs is $5.6 million.
Ochoa later told police that he had been directed by a contact in Mexico to drive his semi truck to a location in California and leave it unlocked, then to deliver the package to Rodriguez Cardenas in Philadelphia
According to Bucks County Deputy District Attorney Megan K. Stricker, Ochoa transported and delivered the drugs while Rodriguez Cardenas facilitated the transport and trafficking of the drugs and was the “money broker” in the organization. She is allegedly a member of the cartel Ochoa was working with.
Rodriguez Cardenas was also convicted on two counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and one count each of corrupt organizations, criminal conspiracy, possession of a small amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia and sentenced to to eight to 16 years in state prison.
“He’s from Texas. She’s from California. Jesus Malverde, the patron saint of narco-traffickers was not looking out for them in Pennsylvania, but, thankfully, the police were,” District Attorney Matt Weintraub said. “Thanks to great police instincts and hard work, these two will now be residents of the Pennsylvania state prison system for the next decade or so.”