Heroin found in minivan pulled over on I-93 in Andover
ANDOVER, Mass. -- A minivan pulled over on Interstate 93 in Andover over the weekend for having illegally tinted windows has resulted in the seizure of $50,000 worth of heroin and the arrest of two people.
Both of the suspects have long criminal records that include drug trafficking charges, but it's the amount of heroin that they were allegedly hauling that caught everyone's attention.
Luis Sanchez Moretta, cuffed and shackled, stood near his alleged partner-in- crime, 48-year-old Xiomara Ortiz; mother of five and accused drug trafficker.
Both suspects were stopped on Interstate 93 North at the ramp to Interstate 495 when an alert state trooper saw that their tinted windows were darker than the law allows.
"It was basically just a simple motor-vehicle stop," said Trooper Daniel Doiron, Andover Barracks.
But in court, prosecutors say it was much more, claiming the heroin -- $55 worth -- was found in the minivan Moretta was driving.
"He told Trooper Doiron that he had travelled to Boston to pick up a female passenger whom he didn't know and he was heading to a party in Lawrence at an address that he also didn't know," Kelleen Forlizzi, ADA.
Ortiz, the female passenger, allegedly had more than $6,000 on her. But it was when the state police canine alerted that the big score turned into a big find in what is commonly known as a “hide.”
"This one was just in the floor board, cut out of the floor area and it was below the seats where the seats click into the floor boards,” said Trooper Daniel Doiron, Andover Barracks.
That’s where police found the drugs.
Background checks showed Moretta was on the FBI's list with 8 aliases and that Ortiz had allegedly defaulted on a drug trafficking warrant in 2008. Her lawyer says the money she had was a payment for his legal services and that she did nothing wrong.
“There’s no connection with the van to Miss Ortiz. There’s no connections to the drugs to Miss Ortiz,” said Ernest Soloman, Ortiz defense attorney.
But their connection to prior drug trafficking charges led to very high bail for both of them and some very hard time if they're convicted.
Police say Moretta was deported back in 1997 but slipped back into the United States through Florida in 2003. ICE now has a detainment on him. Ortiz says she has been living in Boston for the last six years.