A jury in Montgomery County convicted a towing operator of transporting millions of dollars’ worth of heroin in car batteries, not buying defense's claims that a Mexican drug cartel forced him to make nine drug runs between Atlanta and New York.
A jury found David Pacheco, 45, of East Norriton guilty on a slew of drug distribution counts Thursday.
At his four-day trial, Pacheco's attorney John McMahon Jr. argued that his client acted under duress after a Mexican drug cartel threatened his family back in Mexico.
Prosecutors argued Pacheco couldn't have been under duress considering he had the contact information for two Montgomery County detectives who he could have called for help, district attorney office spokeswoman Kate Delano said.
The district attorney plans to seek a lengthy sentence when sentencing occurs in the next 90 days.
Pacheco’s conviction came after a nine-month investigation involving several agencies, including the DEA, Pennsylvania State Police, and four local police departments. Pacheco was first identified in April of 2015 as a suspect in a major heroin operation involving Atlanta, Montgomery County and New York City.
Officials say Pacheco, who owned D&J Towing in Norristown, made at least nine trips to New York City to service wholesale heroin buyers. During each trip, Pacheco drove to Atlanta where he received kilos of heroin that were stored in retrofitted, working car batteries, according to police. He then allegedly drove to Montgomery County and then to the Bronx where he was paid for the heroin. Police said he then returned to Georgia with the drug money.
Pacheco’s final trip occurred on Jan. 10. He was pulled over by state troopers at the King of Prussia toll plaza on the Pennsylvania Turnpike after being monitored under suspicion of drug running. Police said they found three kilos (6.6 pounds) of heroin with a street value of about $1 million stored in a car battery inside his vehicle.
Pacheco transported around 900,000 doses of heroin during his drug runs.
He made nine trips that concealed 3 kilos of heroin each time that translated to about 100,000 doses of the dangerous drug, Delano said.
Pacheco was charged in February with criminal conspiracy, possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance and other related offenses. He was held on $9 million bail.
Two other people -- one in Atlanta and one in New York -- also have been found guilty in the drug transpiration case, Delano said.