VALPARAISO — A Canadian man allegedly caught with 127 pounds of cocaine stashed in an elaborately hidden compartment in his vehicle was unable to persuade the court Friday to consider reducing his bond.
Denis Mesumb, 43, who was visibly distraught during Friday morning's initial hearing, will have to wait until April 1 for a bond reduction hearing.
His defense attorney, Nicholas Barnes, asked that the hearing be held Friday morning, but Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer said no, explaining that prosecutors had not had enough time to see the written request.
The bond reduction hearing was to be set for two weeks out. But after a short private discussion with attorneys at the bench, Clymer agreed to hold it earlier, on April 1.
Clymer set bond earlier this week at $100,000 surety and $2,500 cash, which means Mesumb would have to come up with a minimum of $12,500 to leave jail while his case proceeds.
Mesumb was stopped on the morning of March 15 along a local stretch of Interstate 94, and an undercover officer said he discovered the cocaine hidden in a compartment built in the floorboard of the SUV Mesumb was driving, according to court records.
Mesumb said this was not the first time he "drops the car off and someone loads it for him and tells him where to go with it," according to charging documents. He told police the vehicle was registered to his wife.
He was arrested and charged with felony counts of dealing in cocaine and possessing cocaine, court records show. The charges carry a combined potential prison sentence of between 13 and 46 years behind bars, Clymer said Friday.
Mesumb, who walked slowly to the defendant's table and slouched forward once seated, occasionally wiping tears from his eyes, told the judge Friday his first language is French, but he knows some English.
Clymer said the reason he added a surety portion to the bond is that Mesumb does not live in the United States, and he faces charges for a major crime. Mesumb is from Toronto, according to court records.
If bond is posted and Mesumb does not return to court for future hearings or trial, a warrant will be issued for his arrest, Clymer said.
When Mesumb was stopped by police, he claimed he was returning from a baby shower in St. Louis, according to court records. He then claimed he had driven to Chicago in six hours and then another three hours to St. Louis, but the officer determined the route described would have taken 18 hours.
After noticing that the floorboard depth in the vehicle was shallow under the third row of seats, the carpet was loose and there was a strong odor of air freshener scent, the officer discovered "an obviously altered flat sheet metal box that ran the entire width underneath the entire 3rd row seat," charging documents said.
Once bolts were removed from the metal box, officers found 47 vacuum-sealed plastic bags wrapped in black tape inside that contained a white powder that tested positive for cocaine, police said. Each of the packages weighed 2.7 pounds and was seized by police.