Two Mexican Women Arrested, Charged With Possession Of Suspected Fentanyl
CONTACT: Barbara Burns
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BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Maria Guadalupe Martinez-Plascencia, 47, and Claudia Anel Cuevas-Sandoval, 37, both of Guadalajara, Mexico, were arrested and charged by criminal complaint with possession with intent to distribute Schedule I and Schedule II controlled substances. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth T. Molisani, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, in early June 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Police began investigating the activities of Martinez, who was associated with an individual arrested on May 26, 2018, in Laredo, Texas. The individual was in possession of a backpack and a laptop bag that concealed heroin. Martinez was identified in a Customs and Border Protection report, which included instructions to conduct an inspection of the defendant during any border crossing.
On June 9, 2018, the NFTA identified Martinez and Cuevas traveling together. The defendants purchased tickets for a Greyhound bus departing from Philadelphia, PA, late in the evening of June 9, 2018, and arriving in Buffalo on June 10, 2018. When the defendants arrived, law enforcement officers surveilled them at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo Hotel in downtown Buffalo.
In the early morning hours of June 11, 2018, officers executed a New York State search warrant in the room the defendants were staying in. During the search, officers found two backpacks and two laptop bags in plain view which were heavy but contained no visible contents. Sewn into the baggage were 10 packages containing suspected fentanyl or fentanyl analogue. Martinez and Cuevas were arrested at that time.
Field testing of the suspected fentanyl was not conducted because of the significant threat to law enforcement personnel, first responders, and members of the public presented by fentanyl, fentanyl-related substances, synthetic opioids, and other powder substances.
The defendants made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer and are being held pending a detention hearing on June 18, 2018 at 1:00 p.m.
The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Police, under the direction of Chief George Gast, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Division.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.