A mother of four from Carol Stream has been sentenced to six years in prison for her role in an interstate drug-running operation that was uncovered when police found about 44 pounds of cocaine hidden inside her car.
Melissa Zambrano, 31, pleaded guilty to manufacturing or delivery of a controlled substance Monday and was sentenced by DuPage County Judge Daniel Guerin, according to court records.
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Narcotics investigators with the DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group stopped Zambrano's 2009 Nissan Rogue on I-55 in southern DuPage County for traffic violations on April 16, 2011. After obtaining a warrant to search the vehicle, officers located 20 kilograms, or about 44 pounds, of cocaine in compartments hidden below the seats. They estimated the street value of the drugs around $2 million.
Zambrano told police she had been moving large amounts of cash and narcotics between California and Illinois for months, and was paid $4,000 to $12,000 for each trip. The drugs originated from a Mexican cartel, investigators said last year.
Also charged was Zambrano's driver, Fernando A. Rivera, 30, of Midlothian, who pleaded guilty to a drug charge in February and was sentenced to four years in prison, according to court records.
Zambrano, who identified herself in court as a mother of four, had been held on $1 million bail since her arrest.