BOSTON — A Dominican Republic woman pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to smuggling nearly five kilograms of cocaine though Boston’s main airport.
This guilty plea resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Ireline Aponte Melende, 30, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful importation of a controlled substance. Her sentencing has been scheduled for March 2, 2016.
Melende was stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers on May 10, 2015, at Logan International Airport after she arrived on a flight from her home nation, while using a motorized wheelchair that was inoperable. The officers x-rayed the wheelchair, noticed abnormalities in the wheelchair batteries and opened them up to reveal four packages containing a white powdery substance. Testing revealed that the packages contained nearly five kilograms of cocaine. The cocaine had a street value of more than $250,000.
Melende faces a prison term of up to 20 years, followed by as much as three years of supervised release and a fine of $1 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.