Georgia Superior Court Senior Judge Shepherd L. Howell has set bond at $100,000 for a man who allegedly trafficked cocaine through Bartow County last fall.
Jesus Pineda has been in custody at the Bartow County Jail since Nov. 28. That afternoon, he was stopped for failure to use a turn signal along Highway 41 at Mac Johnson Road.
The officer soon learned that Pineda was driving with a suspended license, with a subsequent vehicle search revealing a large cache of suspected illicit substances.
“The deputy sheriff found 1,031 grams of cocaine in that car,” Cherokee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Erle Newton said at a Bartow Superior Court hearing Tuesday morning. “That has a street value of about $30,000, so it’s a very big stop.”
According to Pineda’s legal counsel, the defendant has lived in Cartersville for roughly 20 years and has worked at the local Aquafil plant for about eight years.
“Mr. Pineda is not a citizen of the United States, and therefore the State argues that he is a flight risk,” Newton said. “He may want to remove himself from this country and go to Mexico to avoid these charges.”
Newton requested a bond amount no lower than $150,000.
“With such a large amount of cocaine, the State argues that he has to be connected, somehow, with a very large drug scheme in order to have that amount in his possession,” he said. “Therefore, I’d argue that he’s likely to commit further felonies if released on bond awaiting trial.”
Newton said he couldn’t specify when the case would go before a grand jury, and that prosecutors are still awaiting the results of state crime lab testing.
“They are getting better these days, but it still does take a couple of months,” he said.
Newton said he believes there is an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold on the defendant. “An agent told me something in passing last week, but I haven’t checked on it," he said.
Considering the large volume of suspected drugs in Pineda’s possession, Judge Howell said a $100,000 bond certainly wasn’t unreasonable.
“You need to indicate on the bond that it is subject to any other holds,” he said, “in particular, ICE.”