Mexican Women Sent to Prison for Smuggling Heroin Balls in Potato Chip Bags
LAREDO, Texas – Two women residing in Monterrey, Mexico, have been ordered to federal prison for their roles in importing nearly 1000 grams of heroin, announced Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux, Houston Division and U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Maria Luisa Hernandez-Alanis, 41, and Tania Melissa Coutino-Hernandez, 40, pleaded guilty Nov. 1, 2022.
Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo imposed a 36-month term of imprisonment for both women. Not U.S. citizens, they will be expected to face removal proceedings following their sentences. At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence regarding their roles in the crime, determining that they each agreed equally to participate in the scheme. In handing down the prison terms, Judge Marmolejo noted heroin is a very serious problem in the United States, resulting in thousands of overdose deaths every year.
At the time of their pleas, they admitted that on Sept. 4, 2022, they arrived at the Juarez-Lincoln Bridge Port of Entry in Laredo in a vehicle. They applied for entry into the United States by presenting B1/B2 tourist visas.
At secondary inspection, law enforcement discovered two yellow bags of potato chips inside of Coutino-Hernandez’s purse. The bags appeared to be sealed and unopened. However, the contents felt like a heavy ball. Further inspection revealed the bags contained heroin bundles weighing 983.9 grams.
The investigation revealed the pair were both aware of the drugs and were going to be paid $300 each to cross into the country with them. The co-conspirators planned on returning to Mexico with a large amount of cash.
Both have been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation with the assistance of Customs and Border Protection. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul A. Harrison prosecuted the case.