Woman pleads guilty in heroin smuggling case

Federal authorities have uncovered another link in the heroin supply chain between the Dominican Republic and southeastern Connecticut.

On Tuesday, Ana Genao Pena, 39, of New York City, pleaded guilty to receiving raw heroin directly from human carriers who had flown from the Dominican Republic. According to federal prosecutors, carriers who had ingested heroin pellets would fly into John F. Kennedy International Airport, travel to Pena's residence in Washington Heights and "pass" the drugs, which Pena would then distribute to suppliers in New London and elsewhere.

Pena, who has been detained since her arrest in December 2013, will be sentenced at a later date for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1 kilogram or more of heroin. She has no prior criminal record.

For months, investigators knew Pena only as "Johanny" a female who conducted business with Luis Ariel Capellan Maldonado of New London by cell phone. Maldonado was considered a major player among the more than 100 people rounded up in April 2013 in an operation that involved some 700 federal, state and local officials. The authorities said they dismantled overlapping conspiracies that supplied much of the heroin and cocaine that flows into the region from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and New York City.

According to court documents, Maldonado would receive heroin from Pena and other sources and distribute it, often in quantities of 50 to 150 grams, to wholesalers. Eventually, the drug would be sold at the street level.

Based on the intercepted phone calls between Maldonado and "Johanny," the investigators confirmed that she was supplying him with heroin that she was obtaining them directly from drug carriers, according to a court document.

But even after rounding up Maldonado and dozens of others at all levels of the drug distribution chain in April 2013, the authorities still had not identified "Johanny." In presenting evidence of her crimes to a grand jury in April 2013, federal prosecutors identified "Johanny" as FNU LNU (first name unknown, last name unknown).

Seven months later, in November 2013, the investigators confirmed that "Johanny's" true name was Ana Genao Pena and began to search for her in New York City, according to court documents. That same month, Maldonado pleaded guilty. He awaits sentencing in U.S. District Court.

Pena was arrested on Dec. 12, 2013, and has remained incarcerated. She admitted her name to authorities and said she is also known by the nickname Johanny.

To date, 30 of 32 defendants who are being prosecuted in federal court have pleaded guilty in connection with the heroin conspiracy, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

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