An international drug-smuggling ring used a “band of housewives” as couriers, figuring they would slide through customs because of their mainstream looks, federal drug agents said.
The ring sought out women in their 20s with middle-class appearances, Drug Enforcement Administration officials said Wednesday.
Some of the women were single, but most had children; some had jobs, and some were on welfare. They apparently knew each other. The suburban Long Island women allegedly got up to $10,000 each to carry marijuana, cocaine or heroin.
“The uniqueness of it is here you have a band of housewives, regardless of their social stature, involved in sophisticated drug-smuggling,” DEA agent Arthur Scalzo said.
The five women were arrested in recent months and faced various drug charges. Two of them have already pleaded guilty to charges.
Personnel at a Navy station at Naples, Italy, were involved in the trade, according to court papers.
As a result of the Long Island courier cases and others that originated in Italy, 14 Navy personnel at the base have been arrested.
Scalzo said the investigation began when a Long Island woman was approached about joining the group. Instead, she reported the offer to authorities.
Scalzo said couriers made pickups of cocaine in Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Quito, Ecuador, delivered it to Rome, Istanbul and Bucharest, Romania, and returned to the United States with heroin.