A suspected drug dealer tried to use her wheelchair to bring $450,000 worth of cocaine into New York City last week during her return from the Dominican Republic.
Emelinda Paulino De Rivas, a Dominican citizen, arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport on November 10 from Punta Cana, a popular tourist destination. She was in a wheelchair when US Customs and Border Protection officers decided to interview her, the agency said Monday.
They initially noticed that the wheels on the wheelchair were not turning, so they X-rayed it. They noticed an “abnormality,” authorities said.
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Upon further inspection, officers found cocaine hidden in all four wheels, CBP said.
De Rivas was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations.
“CBP remains steadfast and determined to work with our partners to identify the transnational criminal networks responsible for importing these deadly drugs into our neighborhoods,” said Francis J. Russo, director of CBP’s New York field operations.
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The cocaine weighed 28 pounds and was equivalent to about 75,000 doses, authorities said. De Rivas faces federal drug smuggling charges.