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Woman facing federal charges for drug bust
Martha Patricia Pio

A Washington woman was indicted by a federal grand jury on drug charges after she was arrested in Merced County with more than 40 pounds of cocaine.

A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment Thursday against Martha Patricia Pio, 37, of Tacoma, Washington, charging her with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

According to court documents, on July 1 Pio was stopped by a California Highway Patrol officer while driving northbound on Highway 99. During a subsequent search of her vehicle, officers located a hidden compartment containing 17brickshaped packages of cocaine weighing a total of approximately 18.5 kilograms, or about 40.7 pounds, according to the Department of Justice.

If convicted, Pio faces a maximum statutory penalty of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine. 

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the California Highway Patrol. Assistant United States Attorney Michael Frye is prosecuting the case.