The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents seized cocaine with an estimated street value of $450,000 hidden in a passenger’s wheelchair at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, the agency announced Monday.
According to the authorities’ report, Emelinda Paulino De Rivas, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, arrived in New York on Nov. 10 on a flight from Punta Cana. The report states that Rivas was traveling in a wheelchair when CBP officers noticed the chair was not turning, so they checked and found an anomaly in all four wheels.
The statement said the officers evaluated the wheels and found that the white powder inside was cocaine.
Rivas was arrested for importing a controlled substance and turned over to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The weight of the cocaine seized was approximately 28 pounds.
This translates to approximately 75,000 doses (100-200 mg), a lethal dose of cocaine is approximately one to three grams, bringing the amount seized by CBP and kept out of our neighborhoods to approximately 6,000 lethal doses.
“CBP remains steadfast and determined to work with our partners to identify the transnational criminal networks responsible for importing these deadly drugs into our neighborhoods,” said Francis J. Russo, CBP’s director of field operations in New York. “CBP’s mission is to protect the borders and ports of entry 24/7/365 to prevent these dangerous drugs from potentially killing our family, friends, and neighbors.”
Rivas now faces federal narcotics smuggling charges and will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
All defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.