Costa Mesa : Miami Man Convicted in Drug Conspiracy

A Miami man arrested in the parking lot of South Coast Plaza shopping center with 44 pounds of cocaine in the trunk of his car was convicted on Friday of drug conspiracy charges.

A federal court jury deliberated only a few hours before convicting Jesus Maria Ochoa, 28, a native of Colombia.

U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie scheduled sentencing for April 28. Ochoa faces a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $250,000 fine.

Ochoa was convicted of the same charges Oct. 11, but the verdict was thrown out Dec. 9 when Rafeedie was told a juror's wife had watched the trial and passed incorrect information about Ochoa to her husband.

Ochoa has been held without bail since undercover Santa Ana drug detectives arrested him in the parking lot of the shopping center on July 9.

The investigators began following Ochoa shortly after he flew into Orange County from Miami July 8 and checked into a hotel.

The cocaine, worth an estimated $15 million, was found in two gift-wrapped boxes. Ochoa claimed he did not know the boxes contained cocaine.

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