Driver Facing Federal Drug Counts
Indictment On Smuggling Charges Carries Life Term
HARRISONBURG — A federal judge scrapped Friday’s preliminary hearing for a tractor-trailer driver accused of smuggling more than 70 pounds of cocaine and heroin after a federal grand jury indicted the defendant Thursday.
George Henry Covarrubaiz, 38, whose home addresses are listed as Tijuana, Mexico, and Compton, Calif., is charged with possession with the intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and 1 kilogram or more of heroin. A kilo is equal to about 2.2 pounds.
He faces life in prison.
Covarrubaiz was also scheduled for a bond hearing in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg but Magistrate Judge James Welsh rescheduled the hearing for Thursday.
A member of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force based in Annandale filed the complaint on April 24.
The defendant had faced state charges, but those were dismissed.
The investigation began on Feb. 3 when a special agent with the Virginia State Police’s Criminal Interdiction Unit stopped Covarrubaiz’s tractor-trailer because of a bad light along Interstate 81 in Rockingham County, just south of New Market.
During a search, police say, a drug dog found nearly 48 pounds of cocaine and 22 pounds of heroin hidden inside the truck’s battery compartment.
State prosecutors said during previous court hearings that the defendant possessed a knife that had the markings of a Mexican drug cartel on it.
“The word ‘Sinaloa’ was etched on it,” according to the complaint filed by the agent. “I am familiar with the Sinaloa Cartel, which is known to be a large scale drug trafficking organization operating out of Sinaloa, Mexico. The drug trafficking organization is responsible for bulk quantities of illicit drugs and drug proceeds being transported into and out of the United States.”
The complaint states the cartel often uses tractor-trailers to haul their shipments.
The defendant has denied knowing the drugs were located inside the truck.
Covarrubaiz is being held without bond in Rockingham County Jail.
Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or email@example.com