Area couple sentenced in Utah federal court
A federal judge in Utah on Monday sentenced Judith Santana, 45, to start her supervised release with six months at a halfway house, said Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Utah.
Santana's sentencing took into account her cooperation and "being a minor and minimal participant" as well as other factors, Rydalch said.
Sergio B. Gelacio, 43, was sentenced earlier this month to five years in federal prison.
The pair were indicted in 2009 and pleaded guilty to federal charges of cocaine possession with intent to distribute.
Authorities said the street value of the cocaine the pair were transporting was $2.1 million to $3.15 million.
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 pair 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.