News Release
March 9, 2006

Springfield Woman Sentenced for Drug Distribution Conspiracy

MAR 9 -- Springfield, MA... A Springfield woman was sentenced yesterday in federal court for her role in a large-scale conspiracy to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin.

June W. Stansbury, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in New England and United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and, announced today that ZENIA SANCHEZ, age 22, of Washburn in Springfield, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor to a sentence of time served followed by 4 years of supervised release. SANCHEZ pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine on May 27, 2004.

At the earlier plea hearing, the prosecutor told the Court that, had the case proceeded to trial, the evidence would have proven that between the summer of 2002 and February, 2003, SANCHEZ engaged in a conspiracy to distribute more than 1.5 kilograms of crack cocaine primarily through a crack house at 147-149 Cedar Street in Springfield that was owned and operated by co-defendant Jose Merced. According to the prosecutor, SANCHEZ facilitated the drug distribution network by permitting Merced to use her former residence on Federal Street to prepare and package drugs and by assisting him in the collection of the proceeds of the sales of those drugs. SANCHEZ was paid $1,000 per week for her work. Based on the quantity of drugs involved in the offense, SANCHEZ faced a minimum mandatory prison sentence of 10 years. Because she had no prior criminal convictions, SANCHEZ was eligible for the so-called “safety-valve” provisions of the federal law, which permitted the Court to sentence her below the minimum mandatory sentence.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and members of its Drug Task Force. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas J. O'Connor, Jr., in Sullivan’s Springfield Office.