Traffic Stop Leads to Huge Drug Bust in Bedminster Bucks DA Says
Press Release from the office of Bucks County District Attorney’s office
A routine traffic stop Friday night by an observant Bedminster Township patrol officer led to a drug investigation that took nearly $4 million worth of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl off the streets.
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.
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 the 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.
Calling it “great instinctual police work, some hard work and collaboration among law enforcement,” 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, Weintraub said.
“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. Charges are pending related to the Lehigh County search.
In that search, a tractor trailer that Ochoa owned and had the logo “Ochoa Transport Services” was parked in Upper Macungie Township. K9 Baron from the Central Bucks Regional Police Department was called in to assist in the search and got a hit on the cab of the truck. The trailer was found to contain a legitimate load of agricultural products.
The case was investigated by detectives with the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office Drug Strike Force, Bedminster Township Police, Dublin Borough Police, Pennsylvania State Police, Doylestown Township Police, Upper Macungie Township Police, Central Bucks Regional Police, with assistance from the Department of Homeland Security and the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office.
The case is assigned for prosecution to Assistant District Attorney Megan Stricker. “As you all know we are in the midst of a twin pandemic,” Weintraub said. “We were already in a pandemic before we heard the word Covid-19 and that is the drug scourge that we ‘ve been battling for years, and as a result of the COVID pandemic, drug overdoses are up. I am really pleased and proud to say thank you to our police officers and all law enforcement that collaborated on this drug bust. Because of it, so many of our loved ones will not suffer a death at the hands of these narco-traffickers.”