Two Guatemalan men are fortunate to be going home, but the packages they brought Saturday to Washington Dulles International Airport will remain in federal custody a little while longer after Customs and Border Protection officers discovered cocaine concealed inside the double walls of plastic jars, authorities say.
The two men, who requested entry as couriers on business, arrived separately aboard different airlines from different departure cities and about three hours apart.
As couriers, each was referred for a routine secondary examination to have their packages inspected.
Among other things allegedly in the couriers' packages, CBP officers discovered a total of seven plastic jars - three from the first courier and four from the second courier - which were similarly constructed with a second wall lining.
Inside the cavities, CBP officers discovered a white, powdery substance that field-tested positive for cocaine. CBP officers emptied the contents of cream and honey, but were unable to easily extract the cocaine. The combined weight of plastic jars and cocaine measured about 5.7 kilograms, or 12 pounds, 10 ounces.
After extensive interviews, authorities were satisfied that the two men were couriers and released them to return to Guatemala. Each has been barred from returning to the U.S. for a minimum of five years. The parcels were allegedly destined for addresses in Maryland.
"Customs and Border Protection officers at Washington Dulles International Airport have proven to be exceptionally skilled at discovering unique concealment methods, and this seizure is illustrative of that skill," said Christopher Hess, CBP Port Director for the Port of Washington. "CBP officers remain ever vigilant at intercepting illicit narcotics before it can hurt our families and communities."
The first courier arrived aboard Copa Airlines from Guatemala via Panama shortly after midnight Friday night. CBP officers discovered about 3.5 kilograms, or 7 pounds, 11 ounces of cocaine inside the false inner lining of three containers of cream.
The second man arrived aboard Taca Airlines from El Salvador shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday. CBP officers discovered 2.2272 kilograms, or 4 pounds, 14 ounces, of cocaine in four plastic jars, two of which contained honey and two that contained cream.
"Every day at Washington Dulles International Airport we welcome thousands of legitimate business travelers to the United States," said Hess. "But this is one type of business that we just can't allow into the U.S."
During fiscal year 2011, which spans Oct. 1, 2011 through Sept. 30, 2012, CBP officers at Washington Dulles International Airport intercepted a little more than 50 pounds of cocaine in seven seizures.