TUSCOLA — Two Texas men arrested in separate traffic stops this week on Interstate 57 in Douglas County, one with a loaded gun and 50 kilograms of cocaine and another with several guns allegedly intended for resale in Chicago, were released from custody after being criminally charged.
Despite requests by Douglas County State’s Attorney Rob Kosic to keep the men in jail until trial, two different judges ordered their release.
On Monday, Illinois State Police stopped a semitrailer on I-57 near Tuscola for a safety inspection. The driver, Raymundo Cortez, 36, of Brownsville, Texas, was hauling charcoal, Kosic said.
A search of his trailer turned up more than 110 pounds of cocaine and a loaded handgun.
Cortez was charged with multiple felony counts of possession with intent to deliver cocaine, possession of a controlled substance, controlled-substance trafficking, armed violence and aggravated unlawful use of weapons.
Judge Kate Watson on Tuesday declined to keep Cortez in jail after Kosic argued that he posed a danger to the community based on the large amount of cocaine and loaded gun.
He said Cortez had no firearm owner’s identification card or concealed-carry license for the gun, which was uncased.
Watson told Cortez to return to court Nov. 8 with an attorney of his own choosing. She also ordered him to remain in Illinois. If convicted of the most serious of the charges, he faces at least six to 30 years in prison.
In the other case, Dominic Zuniga, 20, of San Antonio was charged with attempted gun running, aggravated unlawful use of weapons and unlawful use of weapons following his arrest Tuesday on the same interstate between Arcola and Tuscola.
Kosic said a state trooper stopped the BMW that Zuniga was driving north for improper lane usage. Troopers found three guns on the back floorboard within reach of Zuniga and another six semiautomatic guns in the trunk.
Kosic said Zuniga admitted he was taking the guns to a convicted felon in the Chicago area and that he had transported guns in the same manner previously. He did not have a FOID card or concealed-carry license.
Judge Chad Beckett ordered Zuniga to wear an ankle monitor to track his whereabouts and stay at a property in Chicago owned by his father until he can be tried. He’s due back in court Nov. 22.
The most serious of the charges is a Class 2 felony carrying penalties ranging from probation to three to seven years in prison.
Kosic said neither Cortez nor Zuniga had any known prior convictions.
He said he would continue to seek detention in cases where “there is an obvious danger … but with the law as it is, we may not be able to detain.”