Illinois man accused of hiding 7 kilos heroin in vehicle shows up for hearing |

Illinois man accused of hiding 7 kilos heroin in vehicle shows up for hearing

Renatta Signorini

He was a couple hours late, but an Illinois man arrested this month with up to $7 million of raw heroin on the Pennsylvania Turnpike showed up for his preliminary hearing Friday in Ligonier.

Prosecutors had feared Javier Mares, 30, would not attend court hearings after posting $10,000 bond in the hours after his arraignment — but he proved them wrong.

Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Calisti said Mares waived his preliminary hearing. She sought an increase to Mares’ bond, but District Judge Denise Thiel denied the request. Prosecutors will again seek to have his bail increased during a hearing Monday morning at the Westmoreland courthouse before a Common Pleas judge.

Mares, of Cicero, Ill., was arrested and charged June 15 with drug possession offenses during a 5 p.m. traffic stop June 14.

Mares consented to a search of the vehicle near mile marker 93 in Donegal, police said. They said the search revealed 7 kilograms of raw heroin hidden in a compartment inside the gas tank of his vehicle.

Prosecutors said the drugs could have a street value of $3.5 to $7 million. It was among the largest heron seizures in Westmoreland County in recent history.

Thiel set his bond at $10,000 and hours later, someone from Illinois paid it by credit card, and he was released from the Westmoreland County Prison, according to prosecutors.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter @byrenatta.

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