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Alma Mendez Mitchel

Racine police say K9 Officer Odin was called to a traffic stop involving a man and woman traveling from Illinois with almost seven pounds of cocaine hidden in their vehicle.

Alma Mendez-Mitchel, 25, and Pablo Ribas Perales, 33, both of Chicago, were charged Wednesday in Racine County Circuit Court with one felony count each of possession of cocaine in amounts greater than 40 grams with the intent to distribute. If convicted, they each face up to 40 years in prison and/or up to $100,000 in fines.

According to the criminal complaint, officers on patrol Tuesday observed an SUV traveling north on Ohio Street from Washington Avenue with windows tinted darker than the law allows. Police noted the driver – later identified as Perales – appeared extremely nervous so they asked him to step out of the car and made contact with the passenger, identified as Mendez-Mitchel.

Officers say they called K9 Odin to the scene to perform an open air sniff around the vehicle, and he hit on the passenger side of the car near the dashboard. Police searched the vehicle and found a suspicious set of wires, drill bits and a power drill, all of which pointed to illegal drugs being hidden somewhere in the car.

Eventually, officers found an after-market vent system where 3,061 grams – almost seven pounds – of cocaine was discovered, the complaint reads. Perales admitted to being in the country illegally and told police that Mendez-Mitchel was his girlfriend. A man he met through a friend promised him $1,000 to drive to Racine where someone was going to break down the truck and re-fill it with cash.

Police say Mendez-Mitchel would only say she knew Perales’ first name and that she was in the country on an unspecified visa.

Both defendants remain in the Racine County Jail on $300,000 cash bonds each. They will next be in court Octo. 22 for their preliminary hearings.

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