Three people have been arraigned in federal court on charges of conspiring to import and distribute heroin from Sierra Leone to Maryland through Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
During a hearing yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Chief Magistrate Judge Clarence E. Goetz ordered Janice R. Ford, 31, of Washington, held on $100,000 bond. Oladele Joshua Ogunde, 33, a Nigerian national, and Christopher Tizhe, 30, of Hyattsville, were being held pending a detention hearing Monday.
They were charged with conspiring to import the biggest shipment of heroin ever seized from a commercial airline passenger at BWI.
Alois G. Coleman, 48, of Bethesda, was arrested by U.S. Customs agents at the airport Sunday and charged with importing heroin after she allegedly tucked 5.42 pounds of heroin into her pantyhose when she arrived at the terminal. She was released Monday on $75,000 bond.
Debra Carr, an assistant U.S. attorney, said Ms. Ford, Mr. Ogunde and Mr. Tizhe face a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison without parole. She said Mr. Tizhe also faces drug charges in New York.
The arrest of Ms. Coleman led agents to the three people arraigned yesterday. Customs Special Agent Donald G. Turnbaugh said that they arranged for Ms. Coleman to travel to Sierra Leone and import the drugs. Apparently unaware of Ms. Coleman's arrest, Mr. Turnbaugh said, they tried to obtain the heroin shipment from her Wednesday.
By that time, agents had set up surveillance around her home in Bethesda, and made the arrests when the three arrived in Ms. Coleman's neighborhood for the drugs. Agents seized $18,000 during the arrests.