BANGOR, Maine — A New York City woman who became a drug mule to get out of sex trafficking was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court to 2½ years in federal prison.
Natasha Adorno, 25, pleaded guilty earlier this year to being part of a conspiracy between Jan. 1 and March 17, 2012, to bring oxycodone and cocaine hidden in a body cavity to Maine for Maurice “Mo” McCray, who operated in Waterville.
Adorno is one of 20 people charged in connection with the drug distribution ring, U.S. District Court Judge John Woodcock said in sentencing her. All but one have pleaded guilty to drug charges and 10, including Adorno, have been sentenced, the judge said.
Dressed in navy blue jail clothes, Adorno wept through much of the nearly 90-minute sentencing hearing. She apologized for her actions.
“I was laid off and desperation led to my self-destruction,” she said of her substance abuse and prostitution. “I just really felt hopeless over what I’d been through and the doors that were closed to me.”
Adorno was making between $500 and $600 a night as a prostitute in New York City when she was offered the opportunity to work as a drug mule for McCray, Woodcock said, referring to a pre-sentence report prepared by U.S. Probation and Pre-Trial Services. Adorno was paid between $400 and $500 to bring the drugs to McCray in Portland or Augusta on a bus.
Adorno spent three years in a juvenile facility in New York after she was convicted at the age of 16 of charges in connection with the death of her ex-boyfriend Mark Cruz in September 2005, defense attorney Michael Whipple of Portland said. She stabbed him in the leg with a kitchen knife after an argument. Cruz slipped into a coma after losing a large amount of blood, and his family chose to take him off life support, Whipple said.
After completing her sentence, Adorno was on probation for three years, her lawyer said. She was working as a receptionist at a legal aid office. When funding for the program was cut, she began using drugs and working as a prostitute.
Under the federal sentencing guidelines, Adorno faced between 46 and 57 months in federal prison. She would have faced less time if she had not been caught smuggling cigarettes in her vagina into the Somerset County Jail, where she was being held while awaiting sentencing.
Adorno lost 13 months credit for pleading guilty to the drug conspiracy charge because she engaged in new criminal conduct while awaiting sentencing. She has been charged in Somerset County with one count of trafficking in prison contraband, according to Woodcock. That case is expected to be resolved later this month.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey, who prosecuted the case, acknowledged that Adorno played a minor role in the drug smuggling ring. He recommended a four-year sentence due to Adorno’s cigarette smuggling.
Whipple urged the judge to impose a two-year sentence. He described Adorno’s life as growing up with an abusive father and hearing “gunfire when she opened a window,” the defense attorney said.
Woodcock said he considered her limited role in the conspiracy in imposing a sentence outside the federal sentencing guidelines. The judge said that he could not sentence Adorno to four years in prison when he had sentenced the men who actually sold drugs in Waterville to less time.
In addition to prison time, Woodcock sentenced Adorno to five years of supervised release.