Ill-timed roadside bathroom break ends with two men arrested on drug trafficking charges

Ill-timed roadside bathroom break ends with two men arrested on drug trafficking charges

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CAMBRIDGE — A quick pit stop to answer nature's call along the side of I-80 in Henry County resulted in two California men being arrested for drug trafficking.

Daniel E. Gutierrez-Hildalgo, 23, of North Shore, Calif., and Jose A. Cruz-Espinoza, 24, of Mecca, were charged with two counts Class X felony controlled substance trafficking, two counts Class X felony possession with intent to deliver and two counts Class 1 felony possession. Those charges were amended Nov. 12 to be one count Class X felony controlled substance trafficking, one count Class X felony possession with intent to deliver and one count Class 1 felony possession; the other counts were dismissed.

During the Tuesday, Nov. 12, preliminary hearing in Henry County Circuit Court, Sgt. Sean Veryzer testified that on Oct. 15 he saw a red Ford move from the left lane to the right shoulder, come to a stop and the passenger jump out and appear to urinate. The trooper said he initiated a motorist assist, but that switched to a traffic stop as he told the passenger, Cruz-Espinoza, that urinating was not a valid reason to stop on the side of the interstate. He said he told the driver the same thing and noted they had just passed the Geneseo exit two miles before and should have stopped then. 

Veryzer said neither man had a valid driver's license; both were revoked or suspended out of California. They advised him they were coming from the Los Angeles area. He said he began writing a written warning for improper parking and while he was completing the warning, Trooper John Peyton arrived with a K-9 and conducted a free-air sniff. The dog alerted.

The officers initiated a search of the vehicle based on the K-9 sniff and located one ball duct-taped in a backpack between the driver and the passenger seats another duct-taped package in the right quarter panel and another on the left quarter panel totaling three kilos or 3,000 grams, or about 6.5 pounds.

Veryzer said an investigator from the Black Hawk Area Task Force conducted interviews with the two men and both indicated they knew about the contraband in the vehicle. He said one of the three kilos was fentanyl. “The other two kilos, they were not sent for testing so I'm not sure what they are,” he said.

Judge Terry Patton found probable cause to believe a felony was committed and a Dec. 12 pretrial hearing was set for Gutierrez-Hildalgo. Cruz-Espinoza is scheduled to have a Nov. 25 preliminary hearing. Both men remain in custody on a $500,000 bond.

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