Woman charged with drug trafficking in Eagle County considers plea offer
Judge lowers bond for one of two Los Angeles women charged in I-70 drug bust
A Los Angeles woman is considering an offer from the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office to plead guilty to one felony charge for allegedly trafficking drugs through Eagle County back in September.
Ana Cruz-Ramos was arrested Thursday, Sept. 30, along with Magdalena Ramos after police found approximately 30 pounds of heroin in their vehicle during a traffic stop on Interstate 70.
Both women were initially charged with distribution of a schedule 1 controlled substance-heroin, a class 1 felony, possession of a schedule 1 controlled substance-heroin, a class 4 felony, and special offender importation of heroin, a class 1 felony.
Cruz-Ramos, the driver and owner of the vehicle, appeared before Eagle County Judge Rachel Olguin-Fresquez on Tuesday afternoon for a preliminary hearing. However, Colorado Public Defender Kevin Jensen asked for the hearing to be set back to give his client more time to consider a plea offer extended to her by the District Attorney’s Office.
Preliminary hearings force prosecuting attorneys to present enough evidence up front to show the judge that they are justified in moving forward with the case. Anyone charged with a felony crime has a right to a preliminary hearing in the state of Colorado but must waive that right if they wish to continue with the plea bargaining process.
In Cruz-Ramos’ case, she has been offered a deal to plead guilty to one class 1 drug felony in exchange for a recommended sentencing range of 8 to 10 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections, Jensen said Tuesday. This is on the low end of the sentencing range for class 1 drug felonies, which spans from 8 to 32 years in prison.
Magdalena Ramos also chose to continue her preliminary hearing originally set for Thursday afternoon.
The two women are now set for a joined preliminary hearing on the afternoon of Feb. 17, according to Jensen. This gives them both more time to consider any plea offers extended by the District Attorney’s Office.
Also on Tuesday, Jensen requested that Judge Olguin-Fresquez lower Cruz-Ramos’ bond amount, which was originally set at $150,000.
Cruz-Ramos would need to pay a bondsman at least 10% of this amount to post bond and be released from the Eagle County jail. This would mean an up-front payment of $15,000, which Jensen said is simply not a reality for her or her family.
Jensen requested the bond be lowered to $50,000, arguing that this would be “still a substantial amount” but “puts it in the realm of possibility” for her family to bail her out.
Deputy District Attorney Amy Padden argued against the reduction, saying that Cruz-Ramos’ bond should remain higher than Magdalena Ramos’ $75,000 bond to be “proportional” to their involvement in the alleged crime. As the driver and owner of the vehicle, Ana Cruz-Ramos’ bond should be higher, Padden said.
Padden also argued against reducing the bond based on the seriousness of the charges, which allege that Cruz-Ramos drove across state lines to traffic a large amount of heroin through the county.
“The vehicle had been modified such that the console had a secret compartment in which was located approximately 30 pounds of heroin that was headed down to the Front Range,” Padden said in Tuesday’s hearing.
Ultimately, Judge Olguin-Fresquez ruled to reduce Cruz-Ramos’ bond, but only to $100,000 so that it remains higher than that of Magdalena Ramos.
Email Kelli Duncan at email@example.com