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Second defendant pleads guilty in Rhode Island heroin conspiracy

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. - A Central Falls woman pleaded guilty to conspiracy and possession of heroin with the intent to distribute in U.S. District Court on Thursday, July 29, 2010. Ligia Delassalas is the second defendant to plead guilty in a conspiracy to distribute approximately 700 grams of heroin. In June, Smyrna Martinez of Central Falls, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court. A third defendant William Arms of Pembroke Pines, Fla., also has pending charges with the U.S. District Court.

If the cases against Delassalas and Martinez would have gone to trial, the court was prepared to present evidence that in mid-January 2010, law enforcement agents were conducting a surveillance of Delassalas' home. Agents watched as Delassalas and Martinez left the house and drove to a nearby location where they picked up Arms. Prior to getting into the vehicle, Arms placed a duffel bag in the rear of the vehicle.

The three drove to a Pawtucket hotel where they checked in, bringing the duffel bag inside. A short time later, Delassalas and Martinez left the hotel, making several stops before going to a local mall. The women exited the mall carrying several shopping bags. They returned to the hotel where Delassalas carried one of the bags inside, and left a short time later with Martinez carrying the same bag.

Law enforcement agents converged on the vehicle and saw the bag on Martinez's lap.

The bag, which was open, contained thin white tissue paper on the top, and beneath was a clear plastic bag containing 80 pellets of suspected heroin. Agents went inside the hotel to a rented room where Arms was located. He agreed to allow agents to search the room where they found a heroin pellet similar to the ones located in the vehicle. Arms told the agents that he had swallowed about 100 heroin pellets. He was taken to a local hospital where the remaining pellets were expelled.

Delassalas, Martinez and Arms face sentences of 5-40 years imprisonment on a charge of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin; and 5-40 years imprisonment on a charge of possession with the intent to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Pawtucket Police.