MAN AND WOMAN PLEAD GUILTY TO IMPORTING HEROIN INTO THE UNITED STATES
ERNESTO RAMON ALI VALLES, 41, a resident of Nicaragua, and AURA HERODIA MARTINEZ, 37, a resident of New York pled guilty before U. S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman to counts of conspiracy to import one kilogram or more of heroin, importation of one kilogram or more of heroin and possession with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten. The pleas of VALLES and MARTINEZ followed an indictment which was the result of an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security in which motor vessels from various ports outside the United States were using crewmembers to smuggle narcotics into the United States.
According to court records, on or about April 7, 2011, VALLES was a crewmember aboard the M/V Sea Wave which traveled from Colombia and docked in Reserve, Louisiana. After the vessel docked, MARTINEZ arrived in a taxicab near the dock. VALLES disembarked from the vessel wearing conspicuous clothing given the weather at the time and entered the cab. Agents conducted a traffic stop of the cab and interviewed all passengers. Agents conducted a pat down search of VALLES and found tube like packets under his clothing. A further search revealed approximately three kilograms of heroin in his shorts. Further investigation revealed that MARTINEZ traveled from New York to New Orleans to pay VALLES for the narcotics transaction.
Each count carries a maximum term of life imprisonment, a fine of $10,000,000 and a minimum of five (5) years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment.
The investigation is being conducted by the Homeland Security Investigations Gulf Coast Border Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Andre’ Jones.
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