Photo taken near Phillipsville

Yesterday, Jose Hernandez Lopez was convicted of possession, transporting, and “using a false compartment” (I didn’t even know that was illegal) to hide 1.5 pounds of heroin. He had been arrested this February near Phillipsville.

According to District Attorney Paul Gallego’s Press Release:

After a 4 day trial and less than half a day’s deliberation, on Wednesday, May 04, 2011, a Humboldt

County jury found Jose Hernandez Lopez, 50, guilty of multiple drug charges involving 1.5 pounds of

heroin with an estimated street value of approximately $70,000. Lopez is an undocumented Mexican

National residing in Los Angeles.

Lopez faces up to 8 years, 8 months in state prison for being found in possession of more than 14.25

grams of heroin for sale, transporting heroin and using a false compartment to store, conceal and

transport the drug. Lopez was also found guilty of providing false information to law enforcement.

A prior drug conviction adds a mandatory 3 years to his sentence, which will be pronounced by

the Honorable Judge W. Bruce Watson on June 1, 2011. After serving his sentence, Lopez faces

deportation to Mexico.

On Feb 1, 2011, Humboldt County Drug Task Force agents were conducting surveillance along the

Avenue of the Giants near Phillipsville and observed Lopez traveling on a dead end road on two

separate occasions. They contacted Lopez and he granted the agents permission to search his vehicle.

Lopez and his three passengers waited while the vehicle was checked by a trained Humboldt County

Drug Task Force K-9 (police dog). After the K-9 alerted on the center console, the agents searched

the vehicle and found a hidden compartment in the console containing 1.5 pounds of black tar heroin.

Lopez admitted to agents that the heroin was his and that he was hired to transport the drugs from Los

Angeles to Humboldt County. He later retracted this statement.

“The evidence showed sophisticated large-scale drug trafficking of the sort which deserves the

fullest application of our law enforcement resources,” noted Deputy District Attorney Maggie

Fleming. “And this case shows how our Drug Task Force can effectively interdict such activity.”