3 Pittsburgh women charged with drug smuggling in Curacao

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Three Pittsburgh-area women are being held in an island prison on charges they tried to smuggle cocaine from Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles.

Kelly Russman, 36, Ciara Alexander, 19, and Stacy Goralzik, 28, were arrested after authorities on the Caribbean island found more than 11 kilos of pure cocaine in their cabin on a cruise ship that had docked there.

The ship, the Norwegian Spirit, had docked at 12:55 a.m. Sunday, said Curacao police spokesman Reginald Huggins.

Two of the women had been tracked to a house in Gamdoret, a neighborhood near the resort town.

There, they wrapped the cocaine around their bodies in 16 separate packages, and returned to their ship, police said.

After the drugs were seized, police arrested a third woman, Stacy Goralzik.

Police records on the island show all three women are from Pittsburgh.

Allegheny County court records show Ms. Russman lived in Wilkinsburg when she was convicted in November of retail theft. She was sentenced to two years probation.

Ms. Alexander's last known address was in Philadelphia, according to court records, although Curacao officials said her address is in Pittsburgh.

Ms. Goralzik has no criminal record in Pennsylvania, according to court records.

The women are to appear at a preliminary court proceeding in Curacao by next Monday, Mr. Huggins said.

If a trial is ordered, it could be scheduled within the next two months, he said.

Mr. Huggins said the women's arrest came at a time when international police agencies were cracking down on drug traffickers who use the island as a kind of hub.

The force includes DEA agents from the U.S., as well as police from Curacao and Holland.

He said agents suspect some drug traffickers are connected with Hezbollah.

After the Pittsburgh women were arrested, agents picked up two Jamaican men they believe sold them the drugs. Agents also raided the house in Gamdoret where they seized another 7 1/2 kilos of cocaine in 12 separate packages, 35 guns and other weapons and several cell phones.

The international drug task force has made 17 arrests of suspected drug traffickers this week in the Curacao region, Mr. Huggins said.

The suspects are from a number of countries, including Lebanon, Colombia, Venezuela, and the U.S., as well as from Curacao.

Jim McKinnon can be reached at 412-263-1939, or at jmckinnon@post-gazette.com.


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