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Press Release

Dominican Woman Pleads Guilty to Drug Smuggling at Logan Airport

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON – A Dominican woman pleaded guilty yesterday to smuggling nearly five kilograms of cocaine concealed in a wheelchair into the United States at Boston’s Logan International Airport.  The cocaine had a street value of more than $250,000.

Ireline Aponte Melende, 30, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful importation of a controlled substance.  U.S. District Court Judge Denise L. Casper scheduled sentencing for March 2, 2016.

On May 10, 2015, Melende was stopped at Logan International Airport after she arrived on a flight from the Dominican Republic using a motorized wheelchair that was inoperable.  Customs and Border Protection officers x-rayed the wheelchair, and noticed abnormalities in the wheelchair batteries.  The batteries were opened, revealing four packages containing a white powdery substance.  Testing revealed that the packages contained 4.965 kilograms of cocaine. 

The charging statute provides a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $1 million.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Matthew Etre, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston, made the announcement today.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth B. Orkand of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.

Updated October 27, 2015

Drug Trafficking