Local pair face federal charges in Utah

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011
— Two Rock County residents will be sentenced on federal charges after being arrested on a Utah highway in 2009 with more than 45 pounds of cocaine in their sport utility vehicle.

Sergio B. Gelacio, 42, Janesville, pled guilty Monday in federal court to a charge of cocaine possession with intent to distribute. The charge carries a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment. Other penalties could include a fine of $4 million and supervised release.

His sentencing is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14.

Judith Santana, 45, Orfordville, pled guilty last week to an unknown charge because her plea agreement is sealed, said Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Utah.

A sentencing hearing was scheduled Aug. 8 for Santana, but her attorney on Monday asked that it be continued until after Gelacio's sentencing, according to court documents. Santana is enrolled in a high school equivalency program and would like to finish before being sentenced. The judge has yet to sign the order.

Authorities said the street value of the cocaine the pair were transporting was $2.1 million to $3.15 million. The pair were indicted in 2009 on one charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

According to online federal court documents and police reports:

Santana is Gelacio's sister-in-law. The two were driving east on Interstate 70 outside Richfield, Utah, on Jan. 8, 2009, when a Utah Highway Patrol trooper stopped their Mitsubishi Montero for a window-tint violation.

The suspects offered conflicting statements about where they had been staying and both gave consent to search the vehicle, the trooper wrote. A police dog indicated the presence of drugs at the rear of the vehicle.

The trooper found carpet glued down in the back of the SUV and what appeared to be a hidden compartment.

Inside a compartment in the rear of the vehicle, troopers found at least 21 kilogram-sized packages of cocaine. About $1,500 cash also was seized.

Santana and Gelacio were arrested. They told police they started their trip in Illinois in a Ford minivan and traveled to Los Angeles, where they exchanged the van for the Montero.

The two said they were on their return trip and planned to deliver the Montero to some men in Illinois. They said they only knew the first names of the men.

The Montero was registered to Gelacio's wife under the direction of the Illinois men for the "purpose of using the Montero to transport drugs," according to court documents.

Last updated: 6:13 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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