A 29-year-old Hereford woman who hid methamphetamine and heroin in her vagina to avoid detection during a March traffic stop has been ordered to serve 10 years in state prison after she pleaded guilty Friday to one count of felony possession of meth for sale.
Arielle Ann Aldrich entered her plea as part of a written agreement with the Cochise County Attorney’s Office that stipulated to the 10-year sentence. Several other charges against her were dismissed as part of the deal. She would have faced more than 30 years in prison if convicted of all charges at trial.
Aldrich and Caleb W. Hodges operated earlier this year as “the biggest dealers in Sierra Vista,” according to a filing by prosecutor Terisha Driggs. But that came to an end March 7 when Aldrich was a passenger in a pickup truck driven by Hodges, 21, who was pulled over on suspicion of driving without a valid license.
Officers found Aldrich had nearly $5,000 worth of packaged meth and heroin in her vagina, while additional evidence of drug sales was seized from the couple’s residence. Aldrich was arrested for possession of dangerous and narcotic drugs for sale, tampering with evidence, and weapons misconduct by a felon.
Aldrich came under investigation by the Sierra Vista Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, and U.S. Border Patrol in early 2018 for allegedly selling meth in the Sierra Vista area. Other informants said she was also bringing heroin into the area from Tucson.
Over the next several months, investigators utilized license plate reader data at USBP checkpoints to confirm Aldrich’s movements. They also gleaned information from her phone records which revealed communications with a known drug supplier in Tucson.
In January nearly two dozen people in Cochise and Pima counties were arrested in a yearlong DEA investigation. The sudden lack of competition due to those arrests positioned Aldrich and Hodges to take on more business, Driggs noted in a court filing.
Aldrich reportedly began to obtain drugs from the Douglas area instead of Tucson. When investigators learned she was using vehicles belonging to friends and alleged customers, they obtained a court order to place a GPS tracking device on a truck belonging to one of Aldrich’s acquaintances.
In March, Aldrich was riding in that truck when officers performed a traffic stop in Huachuca City. A K9 alerted to the presence of drugs and a judge found probable cause for a search of the truck and the residence Hodges and Aldrich lived at.
Another warrant granted permission to force Aldrich to undergo an invasive body search and involuntary x-ray performed by medical staff. Several items were recovered from her vaginal cavity, including 24 grams of heroin, 8 grams of meth, and several Alprazolam (Xanax) pills.
After her arrest, Aldrich was indicted on new charges of tampering with a witness and influencing a witness for her comments during recorded jail calls about what Hodges should say to authorities. However, all but the meth for sale charge was dismissed as part of her plea deal.
Aldrich, who served time in an Ohio prison in 2017 for heroin trafficking, asked to be immediately sentenced. Judge Laura Cardinal granted the request and imposed sentence as stipulated to in the plea deal. The meth charge is not eligible for early release from prison.
Court records show Hodges was sentenced by Cardinal in September to five years in prison for possession of heroin for sale. He must then serve a term of probation for trafficking in stolen property.