New Mexico mother accused of using “her underage children as drug smugglers” on flight to Dallas

A New Mexico mother accused of hiding fentanyl in her children’s luggage before putting them on a flight to visit her father in Dallas, Texas has been charged with a federal drug felony.

Magdalena Silva Banuelos, 46, has been charged with distributing a controlled substance resulting in death, US Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham said in a news release Tuesday.

On November 17, at a hearing in New Mexico, prosecutors charged Banuelos with giving her boyfriend, who was also the father of her young sons, a lethal dose of fentanyl. The couple are said to have been in an on-again, off-again relationship.

On May 31, Banuelos reportedly boarded her 8- and 10-year-old sons on a flight to Dallas Love Field Airport, where their father would pick them up.

After greeting the boys at the gate, the father “rummaged through their luggage” before entering an airport toilet at around 10:26 p.m., surveillance video showed.

“A few minutes later, he overdosed and died in a toilet stall steps away from his sons,” the press release said.

A makeup jar containing more than a gram of fentanyl was discovered in the booth, according to a joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Dallas Field Division and the Dallas Police Department.

Prosecutors argued that Banuelos allegedly “used her underage children to smuggle drugs into her boyfriend”.

Stressful Text Messages

Text messages between Banuelos and the victim were also recovered, suggesting he planned to take the drug.

“Hey, you gotta be careful,” Banuelos wrote to her boyfriend hours before his death.

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

“Just one and then wait, you’ll see,” she wrote. “Only one.”

“OK cool. Thanks. Will do,” he replied.

US Attorney Meacham said: “I feel for these children. Losing a parent because of the actions of the other is a misfortune for a child.”

“This defendant allegedly stashed fentanyl — a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin — in the luggage of her own underage sons. This drug has stolen too many futures and ruined too many lives. The Justice Department remains committed to holding accountable those who spread it,” he continued.

Acting Special Agent in Charge W. Guy Baker of the DEA Dallas Field Division said the case was another example of the devastation fentanyl is wreaking on families across the country.

“The DEA will continue to work side-by-side with our state and local partners to investigate drug-related poisoning and overdose deaths to hold those accountable for their actions,” Baker said.

Banuelos is being held in prison pending her trial. If convicted, she faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years to life in federal prison.

Jana J. Pruet


Jana is an award-winning investigative journalist. She lives in Texas with her husband and enjoys spending time with their children and grandchildren.