Sentence Due In Drug Ring

February 19, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — The final member of what the State's Attorney Office termed a Florida-to-Carroll County cocaine ring is expected to be sentenced tomorrowin Circuit Court.

Henry Hernandez of Miami faces sentencing on a conspiracy conviction stemming from a plea agreement with the State'sAttorney's Office, in which charges against him, his brother and hissister-in-law under Maryland's drug kingpin statutes were dropped.

Henry Hernandez, his brother Fernando Hernandez, 28, and Fernando's wife, Bonnie, were indicted by a county grand jury in January on charges that they ran the cocaine ring.

In the agreement, the threepleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. One of the reasons Fernando Hernandez took the plea agreement, court records said, was so that his wife would receive lenient treatment.

Fernando Hernandez was sentenced to 14 years in prison for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute on Dec. 3. His wife received a three-year suspended sentence and was placed on probation for a misdemeanor charge of conspiring to distribute cocaine.

State's Attorney Thomas Hickman and the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force had touted the group's arrest under the kingpin statute -- used when large amounts of drugs are involved -- because it was the first in the county.

Had the trio been charged under the law, each could have received sentences of at least 20 years in jail.

Henry Hernandez was originally scheduled to be sentenced in December. His live-in girlfriend, Marilene Santos, also was charged in the case. She pleaded guilty to a charge of felony drug distribution in September and was given a 10-year suspended sentence in December.

Task force officers first arrested the Hernandez brothers on Dec. 18, 1990, when police followed Fernando Hernandez's 1988 Chevrolet Astrovan to Washington National Airport in Virginia, where hewas to pick up his brother, according to court records.

The task force set up a phony car accident in Keymar and arrested the brotherswhen they stopped at the scene, records show.

Wiretapping by the task force led officers to believe the brothers were going to transport drugs.

Police said they found 162.3 grams of cocaine inside a sealed carton of cigarettes that was carried by Henry Hernandez.

One of the biggest disputes in the case -- whether the amount of drugs seized was enough to qualify for drug kingpin treatment -- was resolved when the state's attorney was unable to prove that the brothers possessed more than 448 grams in a 90-day period.

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