By Conrad Dudderar
A Rochester, N.Y. pair has pleaded guilty and been convicted of a felony in connection with a September 2022 highway drug bust by Yukon Police.
Zacha Deliz Cruz Ayala, 28, and Erika Yvette Sanchez, 35, each received a five-year suspended sentence during a June 5th hearing before Canadian County Special Judge David H. Halley.
Ayala and Sanchez were charged Sept. 29, 2022, in Canadian County District Court with trafficking in illegal drugs.
The court case stemmed from a traffic stop four days earlier when Yukon police officers found 143 pounds of marijuana in their rental vehicle traveling along Interstate 40 in Yukon.
Ayala and Sanchez entered their guilty pleas as part of a plea deal with Canadian County prosecutors.
As part of the agreement, Ayala and Sanchez will be supervised by the Canadian County District Attorney’s Office while on probation – Ayala for the full five years and Sanchez for 18 months. Both defendants were ordered to pay fines, victims’ compensation assessments and court-related costs and fees.
They are due to appear at cost administration review hearings – Sanchez on Dec. 5 and Ayala on Dec. 29 in Canadian County District Court.
Ayala appeared with his attorney J. Patrick Quillian and Sanchez appeared with her attorney Frank Sullivan for the June 5th court hearings before Judge Halley. Assistant District Attorney Walter Mengden represented the DA’s Office.
Yukon police investigators arrested Ayala and Sanchez last fall for transporting illegal drugs in a rented sport utility-style van, which was being driven by Sanchez.
The driver committed a traffic violation about 11:12 p.m. Sept. 25 on I-40 near Frisco Road.
“The vehicle was finally stopped at I-40 and Czech Hall Road,” Deputy Police Chief John Brown said. “Officers smelled an odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle.
“During an interview with the suspects, they were able to determine there was some personal-use marijuana inside the vehicle. When the officers searched the vehicle, they discovered the 143 pounds inside.”
Yukon Police determined neither Ayala nor Sanchez possessed an Oklahoma medical marijuana license.
So, they were taken into custody and the vehicle was impounded.
Ayala and Sanchez were booked at the Canadian County Jail in El Reno. Ayala and Sanchez were released from custody Sept. 30 after posting $50,000 bonds.
Police retained the large quantity of marijuana as evidence in the criminal case.