3 Maryland women charged with bid to smuggle heroin

April 14, 1993|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

Three Maryland women have been charged with attempting to smuggle 13.2 pounds of heroin into the United States via the Mexican border by concealing the drugs in hand-carried briefcases, U.S. Customs agents said.

Agents said Denise Anderson and Cloria Kelly, both 24 and of Laurel, were arrested Saturday at the Customs station at Otay Mesa, Calif. The heroin was found in false tops and bottoms of two leather briefcases, agents said.

Agents estimated the street value of the heroin to be anywhere from $4.5 million to $9.5 million, depending on purity.

Investigators allege that in late March, Ms. Anderson and Ms. Kelly -- whose jobs are listed as hairstylist and manicurist -- traveled from Dallas to Amsterdam and to Lagos, Nigeria, where they are believed to have purchased the heroin.

The two suspects later flew to Mexico City and took a commercial bus to the Otay Mesa checkpoint, apparently thinking security would be more lax there than at the airport, said Donald G. Turnbaugh, special agent in charge of the Baltimore customs office.

Customs arranged to have the suspects and the heroin flown in to Baltimore-Washington International Airport on Monday. Then, with agents secretly watching, the suspects delivered the heroin to Lisa Burnett, 29, of Bowie, at a Laurel apartment complex, customs officials said.

Ms. Burnett allegedly paid Ms. Kelly and Ms. Anderson $4,000 for delivering the drugs, agents said. She was to have paid them an additional $12,000 later, Mr. Turnbaugh said.

Ms. Burnett brought her 9-month-old daughter to the drug transaction, agents said. The infant is now in the care of one of Ms. Burnett's relatives.

A federal magistrate ordered Ms. Burnett held on no bail, while Ms. Kelly and Ms. Anderson, believed to have had minor roles in the operation, were released on their own recognizance.

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