Federal agent from Waveland accused of smuggling Ritalin from Mexico

Frank Peter Salamone
Frank Peter Salamone

A Customs and Border Protection agent and his wife face federal charges in the smuggling of Ritalin from Mexico to South Alabama.

Frank Peter Salamone and Heather Turner Erwin, also known as Heather Salamone, of Waveland have been indicted on multiple federal charges in Mobile.

The couple, both 55, and a third person conspired to import and distribute Ritalin from Sept. 1, 2015, until Dec. 28, the indictment says. They also are accused of importing 539 Ritalin pills Oct. 14, 2015.

Ritalin is a stimulant prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.

Salamone and Erwin were arrested Jan. 10 and held at the Harrison County jail.

They made their first court appearances in U.S. District Court in Gulfport last week, records show. The case will be prosecuted in federal court in Mobile.

In federal court hearings Friday in Gulfport, a magistrate judge ordered Salamone held with no bond, and set a $25,000 bond for his wife, records show. Her travel is restricted to South Mississippi and South Alabama.

Erwin was released with an order to appear in federal court in Mobile on Wednesday.

Salamone was denied bond.

He and Erwin are suspected of wiring about $12,000 to a co-conspirator in Nogales, Arizona, over a period of one year for shipments of Ritalin, a court paper says. One of the Border Patrol’s eight stations in Arizona is in Nogales, its website shows. The CBP also has stations in Gulfport and Mobile.

Salamone “initially gave false statements to the postal inspector when questioned,” Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker wrote in his detention order.

Salamone has admitted he knew what he was doing was illegal, Walker wrote. Salamone gave false statements to a postal inspector who questioned him, Walker wrote, and he tested positive for meth and barbiturates after his arrest.

The Internal Revenue Service provided the couple’s income tax information since August 2013 to investigators, a document filed Mobile says. The couple reportedly have said Salamone is their sole source of income.

Salamone, Erwin and Marangely Conde were each indicted Dec. 28 in Mobile on four counts. They each face up to 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine and five years of probation. It wasn’t clear Sunday if Conde has been arrested.

The charges are conspiracy to distribute Ritalin, conspiracy to import Ritalin, possession with intent to distribute Ritalin and importation of Ritalin.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews