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Mother accused of using children to ‘mule’ fatal fentanyl to Dallas, prosecutors say

Magdalena Silva Banuelos, 46, was indicted on the distribution of a controlled substance that resulted in death.

TEXAS, USA — An Albuquerque mother who allegedly concealed a deadly dose of fentanyl inside her children’s luggage on their way to Texas has been charged with a federal drug crime, according to U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham.

Magdalena Silva Banuelos, 46, was indicted on the distribution of a controlled substance that resulted in death. According to court documents, Banuelos allegedly gave her boyfriend the fentanyl that killed him.

At a detention hearing in New Mexico on Nov. 17, prosecutors revealed that Banuelos and her boyfriend, who was also her sons’ father, were in an on-again, off-again relationship.

On May 31, she allegedly put the boys, ages 8 and 10, onto a flight from Albuquerque to Texas to visit their dad.

Surveillance video shows that the father picked up the boys from the gate, rifled through their luggage, and then entered the airport restroom around 10:26 p.m., prosecutors said. 

A few minutes later, he overdosed and died in a restroom stall near his sons.

From inside the stall, investigators recovered a Clinique brand makeup container that had more than a gram of fentanyl.  

Investigators also recovered text messages between the victim and the Banuelos, suggesting that she knew he planned on ingesting the fentanyl and was aware of the risk it posed, prosecutors said.

“Hey you need to be careful,” she wrote a few hours before he died, the texts said.

“Yes ma’am. Very slow and easy,” he replied.

“Just one and then wait you’ll see,” she allegedly said. “Just one.”

“Ok cool. Thank you. Will do,” he said.

“No passing out on the kitchen floor,” she allegedly responded. “Seriously you could od. No dying on the kitchen floor… It’s going to f*** you up!!!

At the hearing, the prosecutor argued the defendant allegedly “used her minor children to mule drugs.” Banuelos was ordered detained pending trial.

“I feel for these children. To lose one parent due to the actions of the other is a calamity for a child,” Meacham said. “This defendant allegedly concealed fentanyl – a synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin – in her own minor sons’ luggage. This drug has stolen too many futures and ruined too many lives. The Justice Department remains determined to hold accountable those who spread it.”

“This arrest and detention is yet another example of the devastation that fentanyl continues to reap on families throughout the country.  The actions of Ms. Banuelos risked the lives of her minor children by concealing a highly potent drug in their luggage during a flight from Albuquerque to Dallas," Acting Special Agent in Charge W. Guy Baker of the DEA Dallas Field Division said. “The DEA will continue to work side-by-side with our state and local partners in investigating drug-related poisonings and overdose deaths to hold those accountable for their actions.”

An indictment is merely an allegation of criminal conduct, not evidence. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

If convicted, Banuelos faces up a mandatory minimum of 20 years and up to life in federal prison.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Dallas Field Division and the Dallas Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Courtney Coker is prosecuting the case with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico.

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