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article imageDrug suspect puts GPS bracelet on cat, fools officials and flees

By Megan Hamilton     Apr 25, 2015 in Crime
Highland Springs - A Virginia man who was being held on a drug charge and wearing a GPS tracking device may have fled the state, and possibly the country because he may have found a novel way to confound authorities.
Law enforcement collared Diego Martinez-Espinosa on New Year's Eve while allegedly trying to become the proud owner of 19 kilos of cocaine, The Smoking Gun reports. Upon his arrest, Martinez-Espinosa told a Drug Enforcement Administration agent he was staying in the U.S. illegally.
He was then charged in Virginia state court with alleged felony narcotics conspiracy.
Martinez-Espinoza, 23, wasn't locked up on an immigration detainer, even though he was facing a lengthy prison term, and was in the U.S. illegally. Instead, he was granted bond, and one provision required him to wear an ankle monitor "so that his whereabouts could be tracked," court records say, per The Smoking Gun.
Authorities monitoring Espinoza in February knew he was traveling south, and at one point, court documents showed a "strap tamper" alert went out. Authorities called him, and he texted back an image of himself wearing the device.
DEA documents report this happened several times. After a while the unit was replaced, WTKR reports, but then the new unit went silent on March 1. The landlord entered Espinoza's apartment in Highland Springs and found the cat wearing the GPS bracelet as a collar, but Espinoza was nowhere to be seen.
Investigators think Martinez-Espinoza may have put the device around his cat's neck. Then he disappeared.
The cat had to put up with a few days of wondering why this weird new collar was making chirping noises. Those noises were followed by orders to make a phone call. If it appears the device has been tampered with, the GPS tells the suspect to phone police.
If that fails to happen, then the suspect can expect a call.
"We call them and physically make them come in so we can look at it," Henrico Sgt. Rick Garrison told WTKR.
Espinoza had allegedly been trying to hide the cocaine hydrochloride (just plain old cocaine) by concealing it in the drum of a dryer, The Daily Dot reports.
He was supposed to go on trial on May 6, WTVR reports.
"The courts may order bond with GPS or GPS home incarceration," Garrison told WTVR. "We also place them on our work-release inmates."
Diego Martinez-Espinosa
Diego Martinez-Espinosa
YouTube screen grab
Now the U.S. Marshalls are searching for this man, who's know to have contacts in North Carolina. Anyone who sees him is instructed to call 1-877-WANTED-2.
Note: Cat in photo is not the actual cat involved.
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