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Feds: $450,000 worth of cocaine seized from wheelchair wheels

NEW YORK (AP) — Customs officials at New York’s Kennedy International Airport seized $450,000 worth of cocaine from a female traveler who was transporting the drugs in her wheelchair, federal authorities said.

The bust happened Nov. 10 when Customs and Border Protection officers stopped a woman traveling from Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic with a wheelchair whose wheels weren’t turning, agency officials said.

Officers X-rayed the wheelchair and noticed an “abnormality” in all four wheels, CPB officials said in a news release. Officers checked the tires and found a white powder that tested positive for cocaine, they said.

A total of 28 pounds (12.7 kg) of cocaine with a street value of $450,000 was seized, officials said.

The woman, a Dominican citizen named Emelinda Paulina De Rivas, was arrested on smuggling charges and turned over to National Security Investigations. It was unclear if she had an attorney available to comment.

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


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