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Airport officials have seized $378,000 (£302,000) worth of cocaine that had been hidden inside a wheelchair.
According to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Alexander A. Lopez-Morel arrived at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina from the Dominican Republic with a ‘rolling electric wheelchair’ when he was intercepted by officers.
CBP officials found that Lopez-Morel, 22, was using the wheelchair to ‘conceal packages of a white powdery substance’, which later field-tested positive for cocaine.
Four packages of the drug were found ‘within the seat cushions’ of the electric wheelchair, amounting to a total of more than 23lbs of cocaine – and a street value of $378,000.
. @CBP Officers @CLTairport intercepted a traveler rolling through #CBP inspection in wheelchair loaded with Cocaine from Dominican Republic. More at https://t.co/y4YCjCUkou pic.twitter.com/rx4ywLdiAx— CBP Southeast (@CBPSoutheast) June 3, 2022
A press release from CBP said: “After he underwent further inspection by officers involving a closer examination of the motorized chair, CBP officers found the packages within the seat cushions containing the substance that field-tested positive for cocaine.”
Lopez-Morel, who is a lawful permanent US resident, was placed under arrest, while the wheelchair and cocaine were turned over to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, Queen City’s Border Enforcement Security Team (BEST) and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department for further investigation.
CBP Area Port Director Charlotte Barry Chastain said: "This seizure demonstrates the dynamic border environment in which CBP officers operate at CLT.
"Our officers are determined to adapt and respond to these threats in an effort to stop narcotics reaching our communities."
Lopez-Morel was charged with felony trafficking in cocaine.
Over in Switzerland, another huge haul of cocaine was recently found in a container of coffee bean bags being delivered to Nestlé’s Nespresso factory.
The drugs were said to be worth more than 50 million Swiss francs (US$50m, £41m).
Police said Nespresso staff at the plant in Romont, in the western Swiss canton of Fribourg, found the white substance while unloading the bags of coffee beans that had arrived from Brazil.
In a statement to Reuters, Nespresso said: “The substance in question did not come into contact with any of our products or production equipment used to make our products.
"As a police investigation is underway, we cannot share more details. We want to reassure consumers that all our products are safe to consume.”
According to Agence France-Press, police analysed the powder and said it was 80 percent pure and destined for the European market.
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