The wheels on this passenger’s wheelchair stopped going round and round on arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport when U. S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized her loaded wheelchair.
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 and kept out of our neighborhoods amounts to roughly 6,000 lethal doses.
“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.”
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.