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A suspected drug smuggler tried using her wheelchair to bring $450,000 worth of cocaine into New York City last week during her return from the Dominican Republic. 

Emelinda Paulino De Rivas, a Dominican citizen, arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Nov. 10 from Punta Cana, a popular tourist destination. She was in a wheelchair when U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers decided to interview her, the agency said Monday. 

They initially noticed the wheels on the wheelchair would not turn, so they x-rayed it. They noticed an “anomaly,” authorities said. 

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A woman tried smuggling $450,000 worth of cocaine in the wheels of her wheelchair in New York City, authorities said.

A woman tried smuggling $450,000 worth of cocaine in the wheels of her wheelchair in New York City, authorities said.
(U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Upon further inspection, the officers found cocaine hidden in all four wheels, CBP said. 

De Rivas was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations.

“CBP stands steadfast and determined in working with our partners to identify the transnational criminal networks responsible for importing these deadly drugs into our neighborhoods,” said Francis J. Russo, Director of CBP’s New York Field Operations.  

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The cocaine weighed 28 pounds and amounted to roughly 75,000 doses, authorities said. De Rivas faces federal drug smuggling charges. 

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