Friday, February 22, 2013
Martha Heredia, Fallen 'Idol', Arrested after 'smuggling heroin from Dominican Republic on flight to NY
Martha Heredia was arrested late on Wednesday as she was about to board a plane to New York, said Frank Duran, the National Drug Control Agency's director for the city of Santiago.
Police reportedly found 2.9lb of heroin in the heels of three pairs of shoes packed in her suitcase. The drugs have an estimated street value of $1million.
Heredia was ordered to undergo X-ray tests to determine whether she had any drugs hidden inside her body but none were found.
Duran said police are interrogating Heredia to determine whether she was working as a mule for a drug-trafficking organization.
Prosecutor Luisa Liranzo said Heredia does not yet have an attorney. If found guilty, she could face more than ten years in prison.
The show, which ran for three years, was a Spanish-language version of the popular 'Idols' franchise.
On the night Heredia vied for the title, thousands of Dominicans gathered in public plazas to watch her sing on huge TV screens, and then-President Leonel Fernandez urged Dominicans to vote for her.
The country was paralyzed as Dominicans watched the show, prompting Fernandez to quip: 'It was said the country came under curfew without the need of a presidential decree.'
Miguel Vargas, president of the main opposition party at the time, had donated thousands of prepaid phone cards the night of the final contest so citizens could vote for their compatriot.
'Martha's tenacity and creative capacity are an example, and the least we can do is support her efforts,' Vargas said at the time.
Dozens of fans greeted Heredia when she returned to the Dominican Republic after her win, and Fernandez invited her to the National Palace. In February 2010, he gave her the National Youth Award.