In videos geotagged across the United States, three men who officials say are tied to the Mexican drug cartels partially documented their trip from the west coast to Ohio to sell methamphetamine.
They would be able to pay for a new Camaro with “two trips,” they said. They referenced characters from Breaking Bad. They said there is no good food in Ohio, only meth.
On Tuesday, two of the men, who were arrested in Zanesville in July with 12 pounds of meth, pleaded to possession and trafficking charges.
Rember Y. Moscoso, 35, of Bakersfield, California, and Hector Gomez, 37, of Granada Hills, California, pleaded no contest in Muskingum County Common Pleas Court to possession of meth and trafficking in meth, both first-degree felonies with major drug offender specifications.
A bench trial concerning a third charge for each man — fabrication of a vehicle with a hidden compartment, a second-degree felony — immediately followed the pleas.
On July 11, Licking County Sheriff Detective Adam Hoskinson, who is also of the Central Ohio Drug Enforcement Task Force, stopped a vehicle traveling west in Licking County and driven by Jose DeJesus Barragan Buenrostro, according to court records.
A misdemeanor amount of marijuana, a speeding ticket from Oklahoma in Gomez’s name and documents and keys in Moscoso’s name were located in the vehicle, records state. Muskingum County CODE agents found Gomez and Moscoso at a motel in Zanesville and both consented to a search of their room, after which officers found approximately 12 pounds of meth.
Both Moscoso and Gomez admitted they shared ownership of the marijuana in Buenrostro’s car. In the back of the car, officers also found a spare tire that was strategically cut and inside the tire was meth residue.
Assistant Muskingum County Prosecutor John Litle argued that the tire met the definition of a hidden compartment built in or added to a motor vehicle to transport illegal drugs.
Both Gomez’s and Moscoso’s defense attorneys, Elizabeth Gaba and Kirk McVey of Columbus, respectively, argued that the law specifies that the vehicle itself has to be modified in order to meet the legal definition of hidden compartment, and the spare tire wasn’t part of the vehicle in question.
It wasn’t even the tire that came with that specific vehicle, the attorneys said. Plus, the tire wasn’t hidden.
“It’s a compartment, but it’s not a hidden compartment,” Gaba said.
Common Pleas Judge Kelly Cottrill said the definition of hidden compartment means a container that prevents discovery of its contents and basically pointed out that if the tire was hiding the discovery of the drugs, even if the tire itself wasn’t hidden, then it met the legal definition.
“Isn’t it obvious that tire was altered or modified to hide the drugs?” Cottrill said.
Cottrill found Moscoso and Gomez guilty of that offense.
Both men face a maximum of 19 years in prison. Their sentencings will be scheduled for a later date.
Buenrostro pleaded not guilty to the same three charges in Muskingum County Common Pleas Court. His trial date has not been set.
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