Two passengers who arrived at Kennedy Airport on a flight from the Dominican Republic face federal narcotics smuggling charges after officials found them with more than 20 pounds of cocaine taped to their bodies, the Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday.
The cocaine has a total estimated street value of nearly $400,000, according to a news release.
Officials said the men, who weren’t collaborating with each other, boarded the plane in Santo Domingo and were arrested April 19 at Kennedy when they presented themselves for inspection.
One of the suspects, Ariel Garcia, 22, of Miami Lakes, Florida, was subsequently escorted to a private search room where U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers searched him and discovered about 11 pounds of cocaine estimated to be worth more than $180,000 taped to his legs, officials said.
Meanwhile, the other suspect, Elvin Montilla-Sosa, 41, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, also was searched, and officers found about 12 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of more than $200,000 taped to his legs and back, according to the release.
“This latest seizure demonstrates our CBP officers being ever vigilant in protecting the United States from the distribution of these illicit drugs,” Leon Hayward, acting director of CBP’s New York Field Operations, said in the release.
CBP officers placed the two men under arrest and turned them over to Homeland Security Investigations, the release said. They face federal narcotics smuggling charges, according to the release, and will be prosecuted by the U.S. attorney’s office in the U.S. Eastern District Court of New York.
With Deon J. Hampton