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Seward County drug bust

Seward County Sheriff's Sgt. Michael Vance and a police dog pose with bags of heroin Vance seized during an Interstate 80 traffic stop in August. The stop was Vance's first using an X-ray scanner that helps detect hidden drugs and other contraband. 

A California man caught last year with nearly 25 pounds of heroin in a traffic stop on Interstate 80 got federal prison time for it Friday.

Alberto Zamora, 34, of Oxnard, California, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute 1 kilo or more of heroin.

"I'm just sorry for wasting the court's time," he told U.S. District Judge John Gerrard Friday. "I know what I did was wrong."

The judge said while Zamora had relatively no prior record, he had metaphorically gone from 0 to 60 mph and now found himself facing a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence since he declined to be considered for what's called a "safety valve" reduction.

On Aug. 25, 2017, a Seward County Sheriff's sergeant patrolling Interstate 80 stopped Zamora and Juan Nava on I-80 between the Milford and Seward exits.

Both Nava, the driver, and Zamora, the owner of the car, consented to a search, which uncovered 24.5 pounds of heroin stashed in a firewall compartment, according to prosecutors.

Photos showed Zamora driving the car across the Mexico border three days earlier, the Nebraska U.S. Attorney's office said.

In May, Gerrard sentenced Nava, 26, to two years and three months in prison and a year of supervised release for misprision of a felony. He pleaded guilty.

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Lori Pilger is a public safety reporter.

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