Crime & Courts

Woman from Mexico planned to take 21 pounds of meth to Wichita before KHP traffic stop

A woman from Mexico has admitted to trafficking illegal drugs to Wichita, where she had previously made two deliveries to a Dillons parking lot.

Maria Alonso-Espinoza pleaded guilty in federal court on Monday to one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a news release. The 30-year-old woman is a Mexican citizen, prosecutors said, and Sedgwick County Jail records show she was living in Evans, Colorado, at the time of her arrest.

She admitted as part of her guilty plea that the Kansas Highway Patrol found 21 pounds of meth hidden in a rear quarter panel during a traffic stop on Feb. 26 on I-70 near Russell. She told troopers that she was taking the drugs to Wichita for distribution, according to court documents.

An affidavit in the case, written by a Wichita Police Department detective who is a Drug Enforcement Administration task force officer, details the investigation.

Trooper Jerrad Goheen pulled over a silver Chevrolet Tahoe eastbound on the interstate that afternoon for an auto license violation. The trooper found that the driver of the SUV, identified as Marcos Alonso-Espinoza, did not have a driver’s license. The passenger, Maria Alonso-Espinoza, told the trooper that she had a driver’s license. She was also the registered owner of the vehicle.

“The occupants told several stories as to why they were going to Wichita and seemed nervous,” the detective wrote in the affidavit.

Goheen was granted consent to search the Chevy. He then found 19 packages of a substance that field-tested positive for meth. The brother and sister were then arrested, though federal court records do not show any criminal charges filed against Marcos Alonso-Espinoza.

Maria Alonso-Espinoza told investigators that she was delivering the drugs from Colorado to a man in Wichita. She said she had made two prior trips, meeting the man in the parking lot of the Dillons grocery store at 21st and Amidon. She then returned to Colorado with packages of bundled cash.

Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 27, prosecutors said, where she faces a penalty of not less than 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $10 million.

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