Pennsylvania Woman Sentenced for Smuggling Drugs into U.S. on Commercial Flight
BOSTON – A Pennsylvania woman was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Boston for smuggling drugs into the United States on a commercial flight from the Dominican Republic.
Natalia Alexander Duran, 23, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel to one year and one day in prison and three years of supervised release. In March 2018, Duran pleaded guilty to two counts of importation of a controlled substance - heroin and cocaine, and two counts of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute - heroin and cocaine. The U.S. Attorney’s Office sought a sentence of 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
“Trafficking drugs is risky enough, but swallowing dozens of pellets full of heroin and cocaine is just reckless,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “Moreover, it didn’t work, because of the diligence and professionalism of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers who encountered Ms. Duran when she arrived at Logan. These officers stopped nearly a kilogram of cocaine and over 100 grams of heroin from hitting our streets.”
“This arrest exemplifies the drastic and dangerous means criminals will take to smuggle illicit drugs into our country,” said William A. Ferrara, Director of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “The experience, training and constant vigilance of the CBP Officers here in Boston prevented these dangerous drugs from reaching our communities and I commend their great work.”
On May 30, 2017, Duran arrived at Logan International Airport on a flight from the Dominican Republic. Upon arrival, Duran, a U.S. citizen, was referred for a secondary baggage examination. Duran stated that she needed to use the restroom and was told that she would have to be “pat frisked” before she could do so. Duran was then pat frisked by a female U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer, who felt an abnormality in Duran’s groin area. Duran subsequently admitted that she had drugs concealed in her clothing. 41 pellets of suspected cocaine were removed from a bodysuit worn by Duran. Concerned that Duran may have ingested additional pellets of drugs, she was transported to a local hospital and given an x-ray, which revealed numerous pellets inside her abdominal area. While at the hospital, Duran excreted an additional 68 pellets. A combined total of 109 pellets were recovered, tested and determined to be approximately 971 grams of cocaine and approximately 109 grams of heroin.
During a subsequent interview, Duran admitted that in April 2017 she smuggled 75 pellets of drugs from the Dominican Republic into the United States in the same way. On the first trip, Duran flew into New York City and spent two days in a hotel passing the pellets through her digestive tract. In total, Duran smuggled approximately 1,720 grams of cocaine and 109.3 grams of heroin into the United States.
U.S. Attorney Lelling and CBP Director of Field Operations Ferrara made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney David G. Tobin of Lelling’s Major Crimes Unit prosecuted the case.