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prpbmw
03-31-2005, 17:04
Let me see ff I can figure this out. I've got 13 kilos of coke in the car, so I think I will drive 80-90 MPH in a 55 zone.

Motorist's lead foot leads to $1M drug bust




By Bob Stiles
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, March 31, 2005


A traffic stop and alert police work led to the arrest of a Philadelphia man in connection with one of the largest drug busts ever recorded in Westmoreland County.
Erik Ramos, 21, was arraigned Wednesday before Magisterial District Judge James Albert, of Greensburg, on charges of conspiracy and possession with intent to deliver 13 kilograms of cocaine. He was jailed in lieu of $1 million bond.

The seized cocaine was estimated to have a street value of at least $1 million.

"This is one of the largest (drug busts) in this part of the state, to my knowledge," said state police Sgt. John Dell, criminal investigation section supervisor at the Greensburg barracks.





Trooper Paul A. Brigode, a criminal investigator at the barracks, said he stopped Ramos' eastbound vehicle Tuesday afternoon on Interstate 70, near the New Stanton interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, after it was determined to be traveling between 80 and 90 mph.

Ramos consented to a search of his Chevrolet, and a drug-sniffing dog and his handler, Trooper Kenneth Ranalli, were brought in, according to an affidavit of probable cause written by Brigode.

Ranalli subsequently discovered several bundles of what was later identified as cocaine inside the rear interior side panels of the vehicle, the affidavit said. A further search revealed hidden compartment doors on both side panels, and a total of 13 bundles were recovered from the vehicle.

A field test showed the bundles consisted of cocaine, according to the affidavit.

Police said that before the search, the dog was alerted to the presence of a controlled substance.

Ranalli also became suspicious of "recent work done in the trunk compartment," according to the affidavit.

The court papers do not explain what led Brigode to call in the dog and its handler, but Brigode's suspicions apparently were raised when he began questioning Ramos.

Brigode said he followed Ramos for several miles in an unmarked police car before pulling him over near the New Stanton interchange. Brigode was assisted by Trooper Keith Waszo, of the New Stanton station.

According to court documents, Ramos claimed that the vehicle was owned by his cousin. He said he had been using the vehicle for about a week.

"I asked Ramos if there was a way to contact his cousin ... and Ramos stated that he did not know his number and he had no means of contacting him," the affidavit said.

Ramos, a member of the Marine Corps Reserves, told police that he was heading to Philadelphia after staying overnight in West Virginia. He said he was returning from a trip from Texas and California, police said.

"Ramos stated that he was in the military reserves and recently returned ... from Norway," the affidavit said.

He showed police his driver's license and a Marine photo identification card.

The conspiracy charge filed against Ramos involves at least two other people listed in court papers only as unknown. One of the alleged co-conspirators lives in California. The other lives in Philadelphia.

Another Westmoreland County arrest rivaling this week's bust occurred in November 2003.

Authorities confiscated heroin with a street value of about $1 million as part of a controlled drug buy done outside a New Stanton convenience store.

Authorities said they seized about 300 "bricks" of heroin, valued at about $525,000, from a car during the buy. They also found another related 300 bricks of heroin in a Monroeville motel room.

The two men who were charged in that bust, Alonso Jose, of Reading, and Amin Abel Caro, of Brooklyn, N.Y., each pleaded guilty to charges.

Earlier this month, Jose was sentenced to serve seven to 14 years in prison, according to court records. In November 2004, Caro received a sentence of three to six years, records showed.

Ramos' preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday before Magisterial District Judge James Falcon, of Hempfield Township.