Mexican women plead guilty to smuggling balls of heroin in potato chip bags

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FILE PHOTO: American flag waves outside the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington

LAREDO, Texas – Two women residing in Monterrey, Mexico, have admitted to their roles in importing nearly 1000 grams of heroin, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Maria Luisa Hernandez-Alanis, 41, and Tania Melissa Coutino-Hernandez, 40,  admitted that on Sept. 4, 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.

U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo will impose sentencing at a later date. At that time, Hernandez-Alanis and Coutino-Hernandez face up to 40 years in prison and a possible $5 million maximum fine.

Both Hernandez-Alanis and Coutino-Hernandez have been in and will remain in custody pending that hearing.

The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation with the assistance of Customs and Border Protection. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul A. Harrison is prosecuting the case.

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