Two Mexican nationals pleaded not guilty today to charges filed after they were arrested Sunday with 12 pounds of heroin, the largest one-time seizure in Humboldt County history.
Adrian Carlos Cota-Alonso, 28, and Edgar Barragan-Castano, 25, entered the pleas through Spanish interpreter Carlos Benemman. Judge Larry Killoran set bail at $165,000, with the understanding that if the men try to post bail, a hearing must be held to determine whether the bail money came from drug proceeds.
The Humboldt County Drug Task Force arrested Cota-Alonso and Barragan-Castano near Loleta after finding 12 pounds of packaged-for-sale heroin in a secret compartment in their car. Today Killoran advised them of the charges: transportation of narcotics for sale, sale or transportation of a controlled substance, possession for sale of a controlled substance and “false compartment activity.”
The District Attorney’s Office also filed the special allegations of possession of more than 14.25 grams of heroin and possession exceeding 4 kilograms by weight.
Deputy District Attorney Trent Timm had asked Killoran to set bail at $250,000, saying the $165,000 set by the county’s new bail schedule is inadequate. He said the two are facing a maximum of nine years in prison, plus five years for the special allegations.
Outside the courtroom, Timm said the men’s bail under Humboldt County’s previous schedule would have been $1 million. He estimated the street value of the heroin at roughly $76,800, using the figure of $400 per ounce.
“It could be more; it could be less,” Timm said, depending on quality.
Killoran appointed the Public Defender’s Office to represent Barragan-Castano and the county’s Conflict Counsel’s Office to defend Cota-Alonso. Deputy Public Defender Ben McLaughlin requested a referral for supervised release, acknowledging that “supervised release might be a long shot.”
The preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 27.