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Martha Heredia, "Latin American Idol" winner, arrested for allegedly smuggling heroin

Dominican Republic's singer Martha Heredia is escorted handcuffed into the prosecutor's office in Santiago, Dominican Republic, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. Heredia, a winner of the TV talent show "Latin American Idol", was arrested late Wednesday and charged with drug smuggling after police found heroin stuffed in the heels of her platform shoes as she was about to board a plane to New York at the Cibao International airport in Santiago, according to National Drug Control Agency Director Frank Duran. (AP Photo) Uncredited

Martha Heredia is escorted handcuffed into the prosecutor's office in Santiago, Dominican Republic, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013.
AP Photo

(CBS/AP) SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic - Martha Heredia, a winner of the TV talent show "Latin American Idol," is charged with drug smuggling after police found heroin stuffed in the heels of her platform shoes, authorities said Thursday.

PICTURES: Latin "Idol" winner charged with drug smuggling

Martha Heredia was arrested late Wednesday as she was about to board a plane from the Dominican Republic to New York, said Frank Duran, the National Drug Control Agency's director for the city of Santiago.

He said police found 2.9 pounds of heroin in the heels of three pairs of shoes packed in her suitcase. Police also ordered Heredia 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 10 years in prison.

The 22-year-old had become a star in the Dominican Republic after she won the final "Latin American Idol" contest in 2009.

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.

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.

But Heredia disappeared shortly after all the fanfare until her name was back in the news for different reasons.

In December 2010, Heredia hit and killed a teenage Haitian boy with her car as he tried to cross a highway by foot. She was later ordered to pay his family some $275,000 as part of a lawsuit

Heredia's name disappeared once again and resurfaced last month when she filed a domestic violence complaint against her husband, Manuel Varet Marte, a hip-hop singer known as Vakero. He was ordered held in prison for three months as police investigate the case.

  • Crimesider Staff

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