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Nine suitcases with 200 pounds of drugs may add up to long prison stay

A California man admitted in federal court he was carrying 200 pounds of drugs in his SUV when he was pulled over on Interstate 78 in Williams Township, according to court documents.

A plea memorandum filed in federal court says Miguel Gonzalez Segovia had about 153 pounds of cocaine and 40 pounds of fentanyl when he was pulled over on Nov. 13, 2018. The drugs were in nine suitcases packed into a Ford Expedition, the plea memorandum says.

Segovia pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute drugs. He faces up to life in prison when he’s sentenced Jan. 15 before U.S. District Court Judge Joseph F. Leeson Jr., according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Lewis Fallenstein.

Segovia’s attorney, Michael J. Diamondstein, argued Segovia’s SUV was searched without probable cause because Segovia is Hispanic. He said all 36 cars searched by Trooper John Stepanski in the year prior to Segovia’s search were of cars with minorities inside. The memo says Stepanski pulled Segovia over for driving 68 mph in a 65 mph zone and for driving closer than a car length behind two vehicles.

Fallenstein argued in the plea memo that the search was legitimate because Segovia was driving on a known drug corridor from California to a known drug source: New York City. Segovai had conflicting information about his travel plans, an excessive amount of luggage, a short turnaround for such a long drip and was overly nervous, all red flags prompting a search for drugs, Fallenstein wrote.

Diamondstein reserves the right to appeal his unsuccessful suppression motion to invalidate the search.

The charge carries a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence, although Segovia qualifies for a “safety valve” exception where that mandatory minimum is waived, Diamondstein said Friday.

By: Rudy Miller, LehighValleyLive.com

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