Heroin-dealing 'sidekick' sent to prison

Cary Ashby • May 10, 2014 at 2:07 PM

A co-defendant involved in a 2013 Norwalk heroin transaction who earlier went to prison for a cocaine-related offense in Florida is heading back to the slammer.

Lorain resident Salvador Rodriguez, 41, was sentenced to one year in prison Thursday. Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway said he normally would have handed down a 17-month term -- one month short of the maximum, but he said 12 months is similar to what his accomplice received for the same crime.

Luis M. Lopez, 26, also of Lorain, is serving an 11-month prison term at the Lorain Correctional Institution.

Each of the defendants had pleaded guilty to trafficking in heroin.

The state Highway Patrol stopped the 2001 Ford Escape driven by Lopez in Milan shortly after an April 20, 2013 controlled drug buy in Norwalk. Officers recovered the buy money totaling $180 plus a small amount of suspected marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Lopez's girlfriend, a Lorain woman who owns the Escape, and their 3-year-old daughter were in the truck at the time of the buy.

Huron County Public Defender David Longo said Rodriguez has maintained he wasn't involved in the transaction and only happened to be with Lopez while Lopez's girlfriend spread the blame. The public defender also said he's not sure the Norwalk Police Department saw "Mr. Rodriguez doing anything" related to the heroin sale.

"He appears at best to be a sidekick," Longo said.

Rodriguez didn't show up for his pre-trial hearing Jan. 7 and remained on the lam until his Feb. 20 arrest. The court subsequently revoked his $25,000 bond.

"I know Mr. Rodriguez missed court. I know that's serious business," Longo said.

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