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Heroin-Trafficking Mother Sentenced to 63 Months in Federal Prison

December 20, 2012

PORTLAND, Ore. - Maria Gonzalez-Torres, 31, of Portland, Oregon, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez to 63 months in prison for heroin-trafficking and food stamp fraud. During the fall of 2011, the Portland Police Bureau received information regarding a husband and wife team selling large quantities of heroin. Gonzalez-Torres would field phone call orders from customers for heroin, and then she and her husband would make deliveries throughout the Portland metro area, often accompanied by their children. Earlier in 2011, the St. Helens Police Department investigated this same husband-wife team, and that evidence was charged in the federal indictment as part of the year-long conspiracy to distribute heroin.

On November 29, 2011, officers with the Portland Police Bureau's Drugs and Vice Division (DVD) arranged for a controlled purchase of heroin from this duo. Gonzalez-Torres answered the call, made the deal, and indicated they would be on their way to delivery shortly. Surveillance officers observed co-defendant leave their apartment carrying a baby in a car seat and enter one of the family vehicles. Defendant Gonzalez-Torres followed her husband into their vehicle, along with two other children (ages 7 and 4). Officers stopped the car as it was traveling towards the agreed-upon delivery location.

During the traffic stop, a female officer conducted a pat-down search of Ms. Gonzalez-Torres and located approximately five ounces of heroin concealed in her bra. There was also over $300 in the diaper bag. Officers conducted a search of the family's apartment on East Burnside at 179th, and seized over $84,000 in U.S. currency stashed all over the residence. Agents also seized approximately 470 grams of heroin hidden within a diaper genie and a .45 caliber semi-automatic firearm in a hall closet. Gonzalez-Torres admitted that she had been involved in her husband's heroin business and had not held legitimate employment for four years. She explained that she received $1100 per month in public benefits. When asked about all the cash in her apartment, she said that she and her husband were saving money to build a home in Mexico. These drug proceeds were never reported to the Department of Human Services, the authority responsible for distributing federal benefits in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (S.N.A.P., commonly referred to as food stamps), and they were forfeited to the United States.

This case was investigated by the Portland Police Bureau, the St. Helen's Police Department, the DEA, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Leah K. Bolstad.

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