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Airline passenger pleads guilty to attempted drug smuggling

ATLANTA - Zanada Moses, 25, of Baltimore, Md., pleaded guilty today in federal district court to importing heroin into the United States and possessing heroin with the intent to distribute it.

"Public safety is one of our major priorities and we will continue working closely with our Department of Homeland Security partners to detect those who try to smuggle contraband through our ports of entry," said Kenneth Smith, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Investigations in Atlanta. "Our special agents, inspectors and screeners have the technical expertise, resources and technology to detect illegal merchandise and contraband in our ports."

David E. Nahmias, U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said, "In cooperation with our law enforcement partners, we remain committed to thwarting the importation of narcotics into our country through our busy international airport. This case should be another stinging reminder to those tempted by the spoils of drug trafficking - it is a trade fraught with peril. If you are caught smuggling narcotics into the United States at Atlanta's airport, you will face serious prison time."

According to Nahmias, Moses, a U.S. citizen, arrived at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport from Panama City, Panama, on Jan. 15. During a customs inspection, law enforcement officers recovered more than two pounds of heroin from Moses's body. After being advised of her rights, Moses admitted that she was going to be paid $20,000 for smuggling the drugs into the United States. The heroin has an estimated street value of $1 million.

Moses was indicted in February 2009 on one count each of importation of heroin and possession of heroin with the intent to distribute it. She pleaded guilty to both counts of the indictment. Moses could receive a maximum sentence of up to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $2 million.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 11, 2009, at 2 p.m., before U. S. District Judge Richard W. Story.