$250K bail set in West Cocalico drug bust

By on September 4, 2013


PATRICK BURNS Special to the Review

, Staff Writer

Two Philadelphia residents jailed last week on drug trafficking charges in West Cocalico Township await a preliminary hearing date before District Justice Nancy Hamill.

Pennsylvania State Police say Daniel Morales and Maria Martinez on Aug. 27 attempted to transport a large quantity of heroin hidden inside a 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor stopped by police on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

State Police Trooper Luke Straniere pulled over the westbound vehicle at 9:20 a.m. just across the turnpike bridge over Cocalico Creek near Denver Memorial Park, according to the criminal complaints filed against Martinez and Morales.

Officers transported the couple separately to Lancaster County Prison where each failed to post $250,000 bail imposed by Hamill at a preliminary arraignment only a few hours later.

Hamill on Tuesday said that a preliminary hearing scheduled for Morales, 31, and Martinez, 33, for Aug. 30 had been continued to an unspecified date.

Morales and Martinez are charged with manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and criminal conspiracy.

Straniere, stationed with Pennsylvania State Police Troop T in King of Prussia, was traveling in the westbound lane of the turnpike when he "observed a vehicle traveling in the right lane at a high rate of speed," according to the criminal complaint.

After pulling over the SUV with Morales in the front passenger seat, Straniere questioned Martinez. Straniere "noticed several indicators of criminal activity and issued Martinez a warning."

He then received permission to search the vehicle from Martinez, who "provided written and verbal consent," according to an affidavit of probable cause.

A search revealed a hidden stash of 20 sleeves of heroin. Each sleeve containing multiple bags, police said.

Straniere, who serves as Eastern Intelligence Officer with Troop T and also works with Bowmansville State Police covering the turnpike, said a field test to determine the substance in the multiple bags showed a positive indication for heroin.

Information on the exact amount of heroin seized in the arrests was not available on Tuesday from Hamill’s office or State Police at the King of Prussia and Bowmansville barracks.

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