Police seize estimated $2M in heroin from SUV on turnpike in Somerset County
State police this week seized an estimated $2 million of suspected heroin after pulling over an SUV driven by a Philadelphia woman along the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Somerset County.
Ana Rodriguez Gonzalez, 41, was stopped by the Troop A Community Enforcement Team for an undisclosed traffic violation along the toll road near Somerset driving a 2012 Chevrolet Suburban SUV, Trooper Stephen Limani said.
“We found 200,000 stamp bags, which is 4,000 bricks, of heroin and has a street value of about $2 million. It’s about the largest amount seized that I can remember involving our troop,” Limani said. “We believe the drugs were coming from Philadelphia and were going to be delivered somewhere in the Pittsburgh area.”
Online court dockets show Gonzalez was arraigned before Night Court Judge Douglas Bell on charges of possession, manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance. She was ordered held in the Somerset County Jail on $100,000 bail.
Gonzalez’s actions during the traffic stop indicated “there might be something else,” Limani said. The complaint said she consented to a search of her vehicle.
The suspected drugs were hidden in a special bin beneath the cargo area of the vehicle, Limani said.
“They tried to hide it in a special storage cargo area beneath several layers of carpet,” he said. “Fortunately, our TACET group is familiar with vehicles, and when they noticed something out of the ordinary, they were able to peel back the layers of various material and discover the drugs.”
Turnpike traffic stops in Westmoreland County also have turned into fruitful drug busts for troopers. Recent examples include:
- State police last month stopped a vehicle at the New Stanton turnpike interchange and arrested two New York men for allegedly attempting to deliver more than $200,000 worth of marijuana to Southwestern Pennsylvania.
- In February, troopers stopped a box truck for driving 40 mph in a 70 mph zone on the turnpike in Mt. Pleasant Township and arrested the Oregon driver after finding 510 pounds of marijuana in the cargo area.
- Last year, state police stopped a Philadelphia man on the turnpike in Mt. Pleasant Township and discovered 500 bricks of heroin worth an estimated $500,000 inside a high-tech, hidden compartment.
- Also last year, troopers pulled over a Jeep for a “turn signal infraction” on the turnpike in Donegal Township and found about eight pounds of suspected heroin worth about $2 million. They arrested a man from Philadelphia and another from Bronx, N.Y.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .