HARRISONBURG — A Rockingham County judge ordered a New Jersey man accused of smuggling about 8 pounds of cocaine held without bond during a hearing Thursday in Rockingham County Circuit Court.
Joe Sanchez, 34, of Jersey City, is charged with felony transporting drugs into Virginia and felony drug possession.
Sanchez was ordered held without bond during a hearing in Rockingham County General District Court following his arrest March 10. He appealed that decision, which was the focus of Thursday’s hearing.
On Thursday, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Christopher Bean told Judge T.J. Wilson that Sanchez also is facing federal money laundering charges. He was out of jail on bond when he was stopped by a Virginia State Police special agent on Interstate 81 in Rockingham County and arrested on the drug charges, Bean said.
Details of Sanchez’s federal charges weren’t made clear in the hearing.
Sanchez’s defense attorney, Andrew Graves, asked the judge to grant bond, citing his client’s lack of criminal convictions.
“With his lack of criminal history, we request that he have a secured bond so he can get back to work and fight these charges from the outside,” Graves said.
Wilson, in turning down the request to set bail, noted that Sanchez is accused of committing another crime while free on bond.
State police say Sanchez was stopped for speeding at mile marker 258 on northbound I-81, near Mauzy.
During the stop, a special agent with VSP’s Criminal Interdiction Unit asked Sanchez if he could search the vehicle. Police say Sanchez authorized a search.
The agent located a special compartment inside the engine area, where the officer said he found about 8 pounds of suspected cocaine.
The cocaine seizure is one of the largest in Rockingham County history, police say. Police say the street value of the drug is $120,000.
Sanchez is due in general district court on April 16 for a preliminary hearing.