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3-month-old baby used to hide smuggled heroin

By David Self Newlin | Posted - Aug 15th, 2012 @ 11:13pm



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BOUNTIFUL — "Shocked" police in Weber County are trying to piece together how a baby ended up in the back of an alleged drug smuggler's car sitting on top of bags of heroin Friday Aug. 10.

"It's a rare occasion when you see(veteran officers) shocked at a situation they come upon, but this was of those instances," said Cmdr. Troy Burnett with the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Task Force.

"I would like to know the reasons why a 3-month-old baby was used as an object to hide illegal drugs and how that situation could even happen," he said.

The situation unfolded Friday night. The Weber-Morgan Narcotics Task Force had "obtained direct evidence" that a shipment of heroin would be moving from Salt Lake City to Ogden that night and followed two female suspects in a vehicle from Salt Lake City to Bountiful.

When they pulled the vehicle over and conducted a search, police found a 3-month-old child in the back seat in a car seat. Suspects Marta Rubelcaba, 42, and Cynthia Lopez-Ganica, 28, both denied that the child belonged to them. Upon searching the vehicle, police found 38 grams of heroin in hidden balloons right behind the child's head.

Police initially had trouble figuring out what to do with the child.

"At the time, the night agents investigated, neither of the women admitted the child was theirs," Burnett said. "They refused to give us any direct information on who the parents were."

DCFS took the child and she remained in the state's custody until the parents, who reside in Salt Lake City, could be found. The child has since been returned to the parents. Police did not say that the parents were involved, but said they'd be asking them questions.

"We want to make sure all questions are thoroughly answered," Burnett said.

"You can be assured that once this investigation about the child is completed that we will be aggressively seeking charges against those who are culpable, that would intentionally place the child in that position."

DCFS couldn't comment on details of this case but did say the baby wouldn't be put into the home if it wasn't safe.

"We would talk to the family and make sure their routine was sufficient to care for that child," said Debby Booth , who works with the agency.

How and why the child was in the vehicle is not yet clear. DCFS determined that Rubelcaba is the child's aunt, perhaps offering some information. Police said that Lopez admitted to putting the heroin behind the baby.

The two alleged smugglers have been charged with possession of heroin with the intent to distribute, and with conspiracy to distribute heroin. Police said that the suspects were in the country illegally. Both the suspects and the parents could face child endangerment charges as well.

Contributing: Dave Cawley, Devon Dolan

David Self Newlin

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