A passenger was stopped at John F. Kennedy International Airport by U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers on November 10.
Ms. Emelinda Paulino De Rivas, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, arrived on a flight from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Ms. De Rivas was traveling in a wheelchair when CBP officers decided to interview her. CBP officers noticed that the wheels on the wheelchair were not turning, so they x-rayed the wheelchair and noticed an anomaly in all four wheels. CBP officers probed the four wheels revealing a white powder that tested positive for cocaine.
Ms. De Rivas was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The weight of the cocaine seized was approximately 28 lbs. with an estimated street value of $450,000. This translates to approximately 75,000 doses (100-200 mg.), a lethal dose of cocaine is roughly one to three grams, so the amount seized by CBP amounts to roughly 6,000 lethal doses.
Ms. De Rivas now faces federal narcotics smuggling charges and will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the U.S. Eastern District Court of New York.