Drug Dealer Puts Tracking Device on Cat, Leaves Town

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on April 30, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

My cats act like they're in prison when I don't let them out of their house. They should think about one Virginia kitty who really suffered the indignity of house arrest when its owner ran from the authorities.

Settle back, adjust your self-monitoring device, and listen to the story of a smart (alleged!!) dealer and his scapegoat cat.

Diego Martinez-Espinoza, of Virginia, is an accused cocaine dealer and illegal immigrant accused of manufacturing, selling, and distributing more than 40 pounds of cocaine. He was released on house arrest and required to wear an ankle monitor.

Despite tampering with the monitor several times, authorities did not feel the need to rush to check on Martinez-Espinoza when the monitor ran out of power. Authorities asked Martinez-Espinoza's landlord to check on him. Instead of the accused, the landlord found his cat with the tracker around its neck.

Authorities believe that the fugitive has already left Virginia and fled the country.

Bail for Illegal Immigrants

Martinez-Espinoza was lucky to be able to await trial in the comforts of his own home, instead of in jail. Virginia law states that there is a presumption of no bail for illegal aliens charged with certain crimes, such as felony murder or manslaughter, assault and battery of a family member, driving while intoxicated, or manufacturing, selling, or distributing a controlled substance.

The presumption is rebuttable. This means a defendant or his attorney can argue against the presumption and show evidence that the defendant will return to court on his hearing date. The judge has the discretion to grant bail or not.

This law is different from Arizona's Proposition 100 which states that illegal immigrants charged with serious felonies are not eligible for bail at all. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled the statute unconstitutional.

Failure to Appear

In Virginia, skipping on bail is a crime. If caught, Martinez-Espinoza would be charged with the additional crime of failing to appear.

A defendant who willfully fails to appear forfeits any security or bond paid. Also, if the person was originally sentenced with a felony, failure to appear is considered a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. If the defendant was originally sentenced with a misdemeanor, a subsequent failure to appear would be a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500.

So if Martinez-Espinoza is ever caught, he'll face the original drug charge, probably some kind of tampering charge, and a new charge for failure to appear.

If you ever find yourself on house arrest, just sit tight and leave the cat alone.

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