U. S. Customs and Border Protection arrests man after allegedly finding cocaine inside tomato paste container

U. S. Customs and Border Protection arrests man after allegedly finding cocaine inside tomato paste container
The container had five pounds of cocaine according to officials. (Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

JAMAICA, New York (KOLD News 13) - An arriving passenger at John F. Kennedy International Airport had a little more than spaghetti and meatballs in mind as U. S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized his condiment.

On December 26, 2020 Keiter Elian Rijo Morales, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, arrived on a flight from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

CBP officers inspected a large metal container labeled “Bella Tomato” Paste and discovered a white powdery substance that tested positive for cocaine inside.

Morales was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The weight of cocaine seized was approximately five pounds with an estimated street value of $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.”

Morales 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.

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