Bond Hearings Disclaimer: The following individual(s) appeared in felony bond hearings that were held at the Pope County Detention Center and have been accused of a felony crime. All information included in this story was obtained through testimony and/or police reports provided in the hearing. The charge(s) they have been accused of are anticipated charges and probable cause must be determined in order for the suspect to be held and issued a bond amount. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Bonds have been set for three Arizona  residents following a traffic stop on Interstate 40 that led to the discovery of over $450,000 worth of meth. The traffic stop was conducted by the Arkansas State Police and the three suspects recently appeared in a felony bond hearing where they were ordered bond.

Jesus A. Ruiz, 19, Esmeraldo P. Serrano, 22 and Albert Torres, 31, all of Arizona, recently appeared before District Court Judge Don Bourne during felony bond hearings following their arrests by the Arkansas State Police. The three suspects were arrested and faced the charges of with Possession of a Controlled Substance with the Intent to Deliver and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

In order to determine probable cause in holding Ruiz, Serrano, and Torres on the charges, the judge was provided a report by the Arkansas State Police.

According to the report, at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, while patrolling on Interstate 40, an Arkansas State Trooper conducted a traffic stop with a silver Ford F-150 at the 75 mile marker eastbound for traveling out of their lane and entering the right shoulder.

The trooper made contact with the driver, identified as Esmeraldo Serrano, and told her who he was and why he had stopped her. While speaking to the driver and her front passenger, Albert Torres, the trooper noticed Torres was acting very nervous and his “whole body was shaking.” According to the trooper, the backseat passenger, Jesus Ruiz, didn’t say anything and appeared to be avoiding contact with him.

After separating the driver and passengers of the truck, the trooper asked Serrano about where they were going and their reason for traveling. Serrano attempted to answer the troopers questions but her answers didn’t make sense. After asking the trooper several times to repeat the questions he was asking, she then stated they were going to visit Torres’ father but she didn’t know where. 

The trooper then spoke to Torres, the front seat passenger, who told the trooper that they were on their way to visit a friend in Memphis, a story that didn’t match the story the driver had just told him. After getting two different stories from Serrano and Torres, the trooper asked if there was anything illegal in the truck and was told no. He then asked for consent to search the vehicle and he was granted permission to conduct the search.

While searching the truck, the trooper  located a blue ice chest in the back seat floorboard. Inside the ice chest, in the very bottom, he found 10 vacuum sealed bags containing suspected methamphetamine. The trooper then asked Torres what was in the bags and he stated, “drugs.”

At that time, Ruiz, Serrano and Torres were placed under arrest and transported to the Fifth Judicial District Drug Task Force office in Russellville where the three suspects were mirandized and interviewed by agents. The suspected methamphetamine (approximately 10 pounds with a street value of $453,592) was seized by D.T.F. agents.

Following the interviews, all three suspects were transported to the Pope County Detention Center where the were booked for the charges of Trafficking a Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (meth/cocaine) and felony holds were placed on them.

After probable cause was determined in holding Ruiz, Serrano and Torres on the charges, the judge asked the deputy prosecutor for the State's bond recommendation.

The deputy prosecutor recommended bonds for all three suspects to be ordered in the amount of $100,000. Judge Bourne asked Ruiz, Serrano and Torres if they had anything to say about bond, but but all three answered, "No sir."

Judge Bourne ordered their bonds in the amount recommended by the State and ordered the trio to appear in a plea arraignment hearing set to be held on April 1 at 9 a.m. in Pope County Circuit Court at the Pope County Courthouse.