Package from Peru leads to arrest of Norwich woman

Norwich - A Norwich woman who accepted a package from Peru addressed to her boyfriend that allegedly contained liquid cocaine in hand lotion bottles was released from custody Thursday.

The arrest of Janice Gomez, 28, of 23 Pearl St., Apt. 4, on Wednesday stemmed from a "narcoterrorism" investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Homeland Security Investigations team, U.S. Postal Service inspectors and the Statewide Narcotics Task Force Eastern Field Office, state police said.

Gomez was charged with possession of more than 1 ounce of cocaine, possession of more than 1 ounce of cocaine with intent to sell and risk of injury to a minor. She was initially held on a $150,000 bond. Norwich Superior Court Judge Hunchu Kwak released Gomez on a written promise to appear in court, saying there was no probable cause to hold her on bond. Her case was continued to March 8 in Norwich Superior Court.

According to a prosecutor's report released after Gomez' arraignment Thursday, U.S. Customs officials at JFK Airport in New York on Wednesday intercepted a package containing 1,700 grams of "a creamy tan gel substance secreted within tubes of lotion" that tested positive for cocaine addressed to Mario Maldonado of 23 Pearl St., Apt. 4, Norwich.

HSI worked with state police Statewide narcotics detectives, Norwich Police Department's Narcotics Division and U.S. Postal Inspectors to execute a controlled delivery of the package at Gomez' residence.

The prosecutor's report said Gomez told the U.S. Postal Service inspector posing as a mail carrier that Maldonado was her boyfriend, that he was not at home and that she would sign for the package.

She was arrested without incident upon receipt of the package, the report said. A 10-year-old child at the residence was taken into state Department of Children and Families custody and later was placed with relatives, the report said.

Members of the Statewide Narcotics Task Force Eastern Field Office conducted a search of the apartment and "were unable to locate any additional contraband within the residence," the prosecutor's report said.

The report also said Gomez reached Maldonado by cellphone while at the residence, and he agreed to respond, "however never arrived."

c.bessette@theday.com

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