Sterling, Va. - Stephen James Ingle, 47, of London, United Kingdom, was arrested at Washington-Dulles International Airport on Oct. 13, after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers allegedly discovered two pounds of cocaine concealed in a leather shoulder bag and an unknown amount of cocaine concealed inside two ceramic religious statues.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents arrested Ingle on narcotics charges, and Ingle will make an appearance on Oct. 20 for a preliminary hearing in the Alexandria federal courthouse.
"This arrest is a prime example of how U.S. Customs and Border Protection relies heavily on officer training and intuition as well as advanced technology to stop suspected illicit narcotics at our nation's ports of entry," said Christopher Hess, CBP port director for the port of Washington.
According to a court affidavit, Ingle arrived to Dulles from Argentina last Wednesday in transit to London. During a secondary inspection, a CBP officer discovered items stitched inside the shoulder bag. He also suspected that the bag and the two statues were much heavier than they should have been.
The affidavit states that an X-ray revealed anomalies in all three items. Officers removed the anomalies from the carry-on bag, which were two sandwich-sized baggies that contained about one pound each of a white, powdery substance. That substance was allegedly field-tested positive for cocaine. Street value is estimated at about $65,000.
Officers then probed the statues and discovered a white, powdery substance that was also allegedly field-tested positive for cocaine. One statue weighed about 9 pounds, 10 ounces; the second weighted about 5 pounds, 12 ounces. The amount of the suspected cocaine in the statues is unknown.
CBP officers placed a detainer on Ingle requiring him to be returned to CBP upon adjudication of his 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 U.S. borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.