FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:May 9, 2013Contact: Heather F. WilliamsonCommonwealth’s Attorney’s Office20 East Market StreetLeesburg, VA 20176-2809(703) 777-0242
HEROIN SMUGGLER RECEIVES A ONE WAY TICKET TO PRISON
FIFTEEN YEAR SENTENCE RECOMMENDED BY JURY
LEESBURG, Virginia – April 30, 2013. Sulemana Ali, was found guilty of possession with intent to distribute heroin and transporting a controlled substance into the Commonwealth of Virginia. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jason A. Faw presented evidence over the course of the two-day jury trial, which concluded with the jury recommending Ali serve 15 years in the Virginia Department of Corrections.
On March 29, 2012, Ali landed at Dulles International Airport on a commercial flight from Accra, Ghana. Ali was in possession of fraudulent travel documents and was posing as the son of an older male who was traveling with him. While passing through customs, Ali was stopped for secondary screening by Department of Homeland Security officials. During the secondary pat-down search, officials observed that Ali’s stomach and midsection was rigid. Ali was transported by law enforcement to the hospital, where x-rays revealed multiple foreign objects inside his stomach. The objects were later determined to be 87 pellets containing an excess of 1100 grams (approximately 2.43 pounds) of heroin.
“This type of case is relatively unique for a state prosecution,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman. “However, with a major international airport in the County, it’s a situation that has become increasingly familiar. We’re fortunate to have built strong working relationships with our federal law enforcement partners in maximizing accountability in these situations.”
During a subsequent interview with law enforcement, Ali admitted to swallowing pellets of heroin for transportation into the United States. Ali also stated that the older male traveling with him was not his father, but in fact someone that he paid to accompany him to the United States. The older male traveling with Ali was denied entry to the United States and returned to Ghana.
A final sentencing hearing will be conducted on August 21, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. in the Loudoun County Circuit Court. Under Virginia law a judge may reduce a jury’s recommendation by providing written reasons therefore, but may not increase a jury’s recommendation.