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Rosa Almonte De Ortega’s liquor bottle filled with heroin at JFK, officials say

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers determined the

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers determined the bottle of Mama Juana belonging to a woman arriving at Kennedy Airport on a flight from the Dominican Republic last week contained 32 pellets of heroin with a street value of approximately $27,000, officials said Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. Photo Credit: U. S. Customs and Border Protection

The bottle of Mama Juana felt “unusually heavy” to customs officials at Kennedy Airport, authorities said.

Upon closer inspection U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers determined the bottle belonging to a woman arriving on a flight from Santiago, Dominican Republic, last week actually contained 32 pellets of heroin — with a street value of approximately $27,000, officials said Tuesday.

The passenger, identified by officials as Rosa Almonte De Ortega, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, was arrested and charged with the importation of a controlled substance following the search on Jan. 6, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said. De Ortega now faces smuggling charges to be prosecuted in Queens, officials said.

In a statement released Tuesday, Robert E. Perez, director of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said: “Heroin is a dangerous narcotic, and CBP does its part in keeping these drugs off the streets. Our officers are determined to protect the American people from these illicit substances.”

Mama Juana is a drink from the Dominican Republic concocted by allowing rum, red wine, and honey to soak in a bottle with tree bark and herbs. Authorities said the bottle being transported into the country by De Ortega was in a checked suitcase.

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