A Rochester man arrested in February after police found 13 pounds of cocaine in his car on the New York State Thruway in Rotterdam pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge this week, authorities said.
Carlos J. Morales, age unavailable, entered his plea Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Albany. He faces as much as life in prison, with a mandatory minimum of 10 years.
As part of a plea deal, though, Morales would be able to appeal any sentence longer than 12 years, 7 months. He is to be sentenced in September.
Morales was arrested Feb. 2 after he committed multiple traffic infractions, leading police to pull him over, according to court papers. After he was stopped, he acted nervous and gave a story inconsistent with the one given by a passenger.
The trooper called in a drug-sniffing dog, which alerted its handler at both the driver and passenger side doors and trunk, according to court papers. A search of the car uncovered a duffel bag stuffed with brick-shaped bundles. Each bundle contained cocaine, according to the federal paperwork.
In all, the cocaine weighed 5.9 kilograms, or about 13 pounds.
Later in February, a second Rochester man, Jose Gonzalez, 25, was charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute. Gonzalez, according to papers filed in his case, is accused of hiring Morales to drive from Rochester to New York to purchase the cocaine. He also allegedly directed a second person to go along as a decoy.
Authorities believe Morales had just purchased the cocaine in New York for $90,000 and was transporting it back to Rochester when he was stopped.
Gonzalez has pleaded not guilty. His case remains pending.
Morales is being represented by attorney Gene V. Primomo and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Myers.