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Two Mexican nationals plead guilty to heroin possession


BUFFALO -- U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Maria Guadalupe Martinez-Plascencia, 48, of Guadalajara, Mexico, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin before Senior U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years, and a $5,000,000 fine. In addition, co-defendant Claudia Anel Cuevas-Sandoval, 38, also of Guadalajara, Mexico, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life, and a $10,000,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth T. Molisani, who is handling the case, stated that 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 heroin. Martinez and Cuevas were arrested at that time.

The pleas are 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 Ray Donovan, New York Field Division.

Maria Guadalupe Martinez-Plascencia is scheduled to be sentenced on June 10, 2019 before Judge Skretny. Sentenced for Claudia Anel Cuevas-Sandoval will be scheduled at a later date.

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