An arriving passenger at John F. Kennedy International Airport had a little more than spaghetti and meatballs in mind as U. S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized his illegal condiment.
On December 26, Keiter Elian Rijo Morales, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, arrived on a flight from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. CBP officers inspected a large metal container labeled “Bella Tomato” Paste. CBP officers opened the container and discovered a white powdery substance that tested positive for cocaine.
Morales was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The weight of cocaine seized was approximately 5 lbs. with an estimated street value of $160,000.
Morales 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.