Airport Officers Notice Woman’s Wheelchair Wheels Aren’t Turning, 28-Pound Discovery Leads to Arrest

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Customs officers at New York’s Kennedy International Airport seized $450,000 worth of cocaine from a traveler who was smuggling the drugs in the wheels of her wheelchair, according to federal authorities.

The bust happened Thursday 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.

The officers X-rayed the wheelchair and noticed an “anomaly” 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 of cocaine with a street value of $450,000 was removed from the wheels, officials said.

The woman, a Dominican citizen named Emelinda Paulino De Rivas, was arrested on smuggling charges and turned over to U.S. Homeland Security Investigations.

It wasn’t clear if she had an attorney who could comment.

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