Newark, N.J. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Newark Liberty International Airport apprehended two Spanish citizens, a 29-year-old man and his 28-year-old pregnant girlfriend as they tried to smuggle liquid cocaine concealed in six bottles of liquid dietary supplements.
On Friday, CBP officers selected passenger Cristobal Puyuelo Gracia and Maria Angeles Cano Tomas for a random examination after their flight diverted from JFK to Newark due to inclement weather. The couple was returning from a 7-day vacation to Argentina and was in transit to Spain.
During an examination of the couple's checked luggage, CBP officers discovered several bottles of liquid "Alcachofa" and "Uña de Gato" which translate to "artichoke" and "Cat's Claw." Upon opening the bottles, CBP officers detected an unusual consistency and smell. The liquid field tested positive for cocaine. Approximately 16.6 pounds of cocaine were seized.
"CBP officers at Newark are alert and adept at uncovering smuggling attempts," stated Robert E. Perez, director of field operations, New York Field Office. "This instance demonstrates CBP's preparedness to handle the unexpected."
Puyuelo Gracia and Cano Tomas were arrested and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark, N.J. The smugglers face a maximum of 10 years in prison and a permanent ban from re-entering the U.S.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.