STERLING, VA.—Unlike Santa Claus, who delivers toys around the world to good boys and girls on Christmas Eve, the "present" in a Ghanaian woman's luggage has her facing federal narcotics smuggling charges after she landed at Washington Dulles International Airport Monday.
Nana Tweneboah, 68, is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers allegedly discovered more than 11 pounds of heroin concealed in her suitcase's lining.
According to court documents, CBP officers noticed that Tweneboah's black suitcase remained unusually heavy despite being emptied of its contents. A CBP officer inspected the lining of the suitcase and discovered a large, single package concealed within the bottom lining of the suitcase. That package allegedly contained a brown, powdery substance, a sample of which field-tested positive for heroin.
The substance weighed 5,183.1 grams, or 11 pounds, 6.8 ounces. It has a street value of approximately $365,000.
CBP officers turned Tweneboah and the suspected heroin over to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
"Nefarious criminal organizations think they can take advantage of U.S. holidays to sneak in their deadly poison, but this seizure and arrest should be a warning to all that Customs and Border Protection officers don't take a holiday," said Christopher Hess, CBP port director for the Port of Wash., D.C. "Narcotics interdiction at our nation's borders is one of CBP's priority enforcement missions, and one that we take very seriously."
Tweneboah arrived from Ghana via Amsterdam, the Netherlands shortly after 3 p.m. Christmas Eve. She was reportedly destined to an address in Alexandria, Va., to visit with her son and daughter.
During fiscal year 2012, which spanned Oct. 1, 2011 through Sept. 30, CBP officers at Washington Dulles International Airport intercepted a little more than 61 pounds of heroin in 16 seizures.
CBP routinely conducts random inspections operations on arriving and departing passengers searching for narcotics, currency, weapons and other prohibited or illicit products.
For more on CBP's border security mission at our nation's ports of entry, please visit the CBP Web site.
The charges and allegations contained in the criminal complaints are merely accusations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
CBP officers placed a detainer on Tweneboah for her to be returned to CBP upon adjudication of her charges.
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.