Federal Courthouse in Richmond

The federal courthouse building in downtown Richmond, Va.

A man allegedly caught transporting almost 40 pounds of heroin in Hanover County waived his right to a preliminary hearing Friday.

Court records show that Jose Martin Zavala-Higareda, 28, of Guerrero, Mexico, also waived his right to a detention hearing. He is charged with possession with the intent to distribute 1 kilogram or more of heroin and with a related conspiracy charge.

According to an affidavit from a Homeland Security Investigations special agent unsealed this week, on June 5, agents seized 23.8 kilograms — more than 50 pounds — of heroin and almost 4½ pounds each of fentanyl and methamphetamine hidden in five commercial tractor-trailer batteries in Brownsville, Texas.

Three of the batteries were destined for Richmond and the rest for Chicago. The three batteries headed for Richmond contained almost 40 pounds of heroin and were transported to an unidentified location in the Richmond area for “a controlled delivery” by investigators on June 7.

The agents delivered the batteries to a white utility van occupied by a driver — identified as “Coconspirator 2” — and Zavala-Higareda, who allegedly gave the agents $16,500 concealed in a Dillard’s shopping bag for transportation expenses.

The white van left and was kept under observation. It was stopped while traveling south on Interstate 95 in Hanover County by the Virginia State Police. Officers found the three batteries inside along with several cellphones.

Zavala-Higareda allegedly told the officers he was taking the batteries to his house at the direction of someone in Mexico. His home was searched that same day. Investigators found $30,000 in cash hidden in a closet in Zavala-Higareda’s bedroom.

“Investigators further located multiple documents that appeared to be money ledgers,” the affidavit says.

The affidavit also states that last March Zavala-Higareda was with an unidentified man at a restaurant shortly after the unidentified man delivered $150,000 in drug proceeds to an undercover agent in Ruther Glen.

On a motion by the government, U.S. Magistrate Judge Roderick C. Young ordered Zavala-Higareda held pending developments in the case, presumably a grand jury indictment.

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