HARRISONBURG — Secretly transporting kilos of cocaine from California to Virginia will cost a Winchester woman up to seven years of her freedom.

Judith Wright on Tuesday was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg to seven years on a federal charge of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine, according to a news release on Wednesday from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia. She was part of a ring working for Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion. The Department of Justice says the cartel sends tons of cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine into the U.S.

The cartel was described as “one of the most violent criminal organizations in the world” by Thomas T. Cullen, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia. “We are committed to dismantling CJNG’s distribution networks in Western Virginia and stanching the flow of these deadly drugs,” he said in the release.

Wright was convicted in a jury trial in February. She was arrested in February of 2018 in Winchester leaving a house on Smithfield Avenue, according to a criminal complaint written by Thomas F. Hickey, a DEA agent in the agency’s Winchester office. Wright admitted when arrested that she was being paid to fly to Sacramento, Calif., to pick up a car and drive it back to Virginia. She had $6,000 in her purse.

The vehicles have secret compartments carrying up to five kilos of cocaine. A kilo of cocaine has a street value of between $25,000 and $30,000. It is typically sold by the gram on the street for about $150.

Wright and two other women also drove cars concealing cocaine from Riverside, Calif., to Virginia in July and August of 2017. Wright was paid by Blas Rodriguez-Avila, who pleaded guilty in March and was sentenced to 13 years.

— Contact Evan Goodenow at egoodenow@winchesterstar.com

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