A man who rode with his kids in a car that was hauling drugs to North Carolina has pleaded guilty in federal court, records show.
Jose Geraldo Ornelas-Pineda joined Claudia Claribel Gardea in entering pleas this week after they were caught in a Buick Enclave with about 20 pounds of cocaine, according to court filings in the Eastern District of Texas.
Two of Ornelas-Pineda’s children, both younger than 18, were “sitting above the location where some of the controlled substance was hidden in a secret compartment,” a court document says.
The kids were in the car to “avoid detection while traveling to North Carolina,” records show.
The father knew drugs were in the car but didn’t handle the cocaine or profits, according to the case’s factual basis, a document that provides details to a judge.
In the document, he says he was following instructions from another Rodolfo Javier Falcon, who allegedly organized the trip.
Ornelas-Pineda was arrested with Gardea and Falcon, and cops say the trio was moving drugs from Texas when they were caught on a Tennessee highway Feb. 11, WKRN reported earlier this year.
Now, Ornelas-Pineda has “pleaded guilty to possession of more than five kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute,” TXK Today reports.
Gardea also signed a factual basis document, saying she was guilty in the case. Her lawyer says she has a “pending immigration hold,” according to the Texarkana Gazette.
“All three defendants remain in jail” and could have life prison sentences, TXK Today reports.
Falcon will go to trial in September, according to the news outlet.