A Union City man was busted with 30 pounds of cocaine at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshal Airport with over 30 pounds of cocaine in a wheelchair, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Gabriel Ruiz, 34, of Union City, was arrested on state felony narcotics importation and possession charges on June 21st by Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) police officers after concealing over 30 pounds of cocaine in an electric wheelchair.
“Concealing dangerous drugs inside wheelchair seat cushions is unusual,” Thomas Heffernan, Acting Area Port Director for CBP’s Area Port of Baltimore began in a statement.
“Transnational criminal organizations work very hard to conceal their illicit drugs, but this cocaine seizure proves once again that Customs and Border Protection officers are up to the task of protecting our communities by finding the drug gangs’ creatively concealed contraband.”
CBP officers referred Ruiz to a secondary examination after he arrived from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. During that secondary examination, officers x-rayed his Jazzy 614 electric wheelchair and detected anomalies within the seat and back cushions.
From there, officers probed the cushions and extracted 13 plastic-wrapped bricks that contained a white powdery substance.
CBP officers used field test kits and a handheld elemental isotope analysis tool and identified the powdery substance as cocaine.
The 13 cocaine bricks weighed a combined 13.7 kilograms, or 30 pounds and three ounces. The cocaine has an estimated street value of nearly $1 million.
CBP officers turned Ruiz and the cocaine over to MDTA Police officers and the State’s Attorney in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, is prosecuting the case.