$450 Worth Of Cocaine Seized From Wheelchair Wheels At JFK Airport

By Jason Hall

November 16, 2022

Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Patrol

United States Customs and Border Patrol officers seized $450,000 worth of cocaine found smuggled inside the wheels of a wheelchair at John F. Kennedy International Airport last week, the agency announced in a news release obtained by the Associated Press.

Emelinda Paulino De Rivas, a Dominican citizen traveling from Punta Canta, was arrested on smuggling charges in connection to the incident.

De Rivas was stopped on November 10 after officers noticed that her wheelchair's wheels weren't turning, the agency said.

Customs officers X-rayed the wheelchair and spotted an "anomaly" in all four wheels before checking the tires and discovering a white powder that later tested positive for cocaine, the agency said in the news release.

Officials said a total of 28 pounds (12.7) of cocaine was found inside the wheels.

“CBP stands steadfast and determined in working with our partners to identify the trans-national criminal networks responsible for importing these deadly drugs into our neighborhoods.” said Francis J. Russo, Director of CBP’s New York field operations. “CBP’s mission is to guard the borders and ports of entry 24/7, 365 days a year to prevent these dangerous drugs from potentially killing our family, friends, and neighbors.”

It wasn't clear whether De Rivas had an attorney who could comment on the situation at the time of the AP's publication.

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