The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency in a statement issued on Monday, said that an arriving passenger at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport had “a little more than spaghetti and meatballs in mind” as officers seized his illegal condiment.
According to the CBP, on December 26, Keiter Elian Rijo Morales, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, arrived on a flight from Santo Domingo.
“CBP officers inspected a large metal container labeled ‘Bella Tomato’ Paste,” the statement said. “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 US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
The weight of cocaine seized was about five pounds, with an estimated street value of US$160,000.
“The smuggling of illicit drugs poses a significant threat to our nation, and CBP does its part in keeping these drugs off our streets,” said Troy Miller, Director of CBP’s New York Field Operations.
“As America’s unified border security agency, our employees are determined to protect the public from these substances,” he added.
Miller said Morales now faces US federal narcotics smuggling charges and will be prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office in the US Eastern District Court of New York.