Two Toledo men face a joint trial starting April 29 in connection with bringing four crates of marijuana from Arizona to Huron County.
Marcos M. Jaso, 34, and Carlos C. Torres Jr., 30, pleaded innocent Monday to one count each of possession of marijuana stemming from a Sept. 20 traffic stop on U.S. 250 north of Milan. If convicted of the second-degree felony, they face an eight-year mandatory prison term.
A third accomplice, John E. Nunley Jr., 35, also of Toledo, had his case transferred from Norwalk Municipal Court to Huron County Common Pleas Court on Sept. 28. Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said Nunley hasn't been indicted, but there could be a plea deal being arranged.
During the Sept. 20 incident, authorities seized reinforced crates with about 150 pounds of marijuana. The drugs were packaged in several layers of plastic in two bundles in each of eight large boxes in the back of a Dodge Durango. The truck was following a black Chevrolet pickup truck with Lucas County plates, driven by Nunley's brother, who was not charged.
Jaso is accused of driving the Durango owned by the Torres family, Leffler said.
He said there is "tougher evidence" against Torres because there were fingerprints. Leffler also said Jaso "gave a weak story" about why he was in the area, but he didn't elaborate.
"Both defendants deny (their) involvement," the prosecutor said.
Judge Jim Conway ordered Torres to undergo random urinalysis no more then every two weeks.
Defense attorney Randy Strickler said Torres is on parole on unknown charges through Lucas County, where he is tested every other week. Strickler said having Lucas County authorities share the results of their drug screens will save Huron County money and Torres money on gas.
The court ordered Jaso to go to the probation department for a random drug test after his arraignment Monday.
Before the stop, Phoenix officers informed Norwalk Police Detective Sgt. Jim Fulton they had "run a dog around the crate ... and (the dog) hit on it," Fulton said. Huron County Sheriff's Capt. Bob McLaughlin, who assisted with the investigation, said authorities received a tip from Toledo that a dog indicated the crates had "a controlled substance" in them.
The suspects left from Arizona on Sept. 17.