A driver's failure to signal as she exited the Jane Addams Tollway in Elgin led to what police are calling the largest heroin seizure ever in Kane County.
A judge Wednesday set bail at $25 million for Claudia Chagoya, a 42-year-old El Paso, Texas, resident who, if convicted, could face up to 120 years in prison after
Police say they found more than 15 pounds of heroin in a pickup truck being driven by Claudia Chagoya, 42, of El Paso, Texas. Authorities estimated a street value of $2.1 million for the drugs.
"It's off the charts," said Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez, who said past major heroin seizures have rarely amounted to anything over a pound.
Chagoya was charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and other drug trafficking charges, authorities said. A judge Wednesday set bail at $25 million. If convicted, she faces 120 years in prison.
Sheriff's police say they discovered the drugs packaged inside the drive shaft housing of the Dodge Dakota. After bringing the truck to a garage, technicians drilled a small hole in the housing, and police say they found heroin on the drill tip, police said.
After dismantling the housing, police recovered 14 packages of heroin inside.
According to a synopsis read at the bond hearing, a Kane sheriff's deputy pulled Chagoya over for failing to signal as she exited the tollway onto Illinois Route 25 about 9:45 a.m. Monday
The truck's Texas plates and her story — she allegedly said she had driven to the Chicago area for a one- or two-day vacation — aroused the officer's suspicions. Chagoya reportedly had a Texas identification card, but no valid driver's license.
A check with a federal drug information center in El Paso showed that the truck had had crossed the border into Mexico on April 18 and re-entered the U.S. on April 21.
Police say Chagoya did not drive the truck on that leg of its journey, but records showed that border authorities had seized $16,000 in cash – which they said was suspected drug money -- from her on a past crossing.
Following her arrest. Chagoya reportedly told police she was given $1,000 in expense money and was to be paid more later. She was told to drive to Chicago, find a hotel room and then contact someone who would offload the drugs, and she could then drive the truck back to Texas, according to the synopsis.
Assistant State's Atty. Kelly Orland asked Judge James Hallock to set a full-cash bond of $2.1 million in consideration of the evidence and the strength of the case. The judge, who said Chagoya presented a substantial flight risk, set it higher. She would need $2.5 million, plus a $46 sheriff's fee, to post bond.
Chagoya, who used an interpreter, sat slumped in a chair throughout the hearing, and groaned loudly as the judge advised her of the lengthy prison term she could face. The most serious charge carries a 30-120 year prison sentence, Orland said.
The sheriff credited the bust to alert police work on what could have been a "routine" incident.
"People in law enforcement despise the term 'routine traffic stop,' because there is no such thing," Perez said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun