Federal agents: 30 pounds of cocaine found inside NJ man’s electric wheelchair at airport

BALTIMORE — U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents were credited with stopping more than 30 pounds of drugs from being smuggled into the country when they found cocaine hidden in an electric wheelchair at the airport.

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Agents said the drugs were found at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshal Airport on June 20 in a press release. Police arrested Gabriel Ruiz, who is facing state felony drug charges.

CBP officers said in a news release that during secondary screening, an x-ray of Ruiz’s electric wheelchair revealed “anomalies within the seat and back cushions.” When officers investigated, they found 13 plastic-wrapped bricks containing a “white powdery substance.”

Officers used field tests kits and tools to establish the substance was 30 pounds and three ounces of cocaine, which has an estimated street value of nearly $1 million.

“Concealing dangerous drugs inside wheelchair seat cushions is unusual,” Thomas Heffernan, acting area port director for CBP’s Area Port of Baltimore, said 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.”

Last month, a passenger arriving at Charlotte Douglas International Airport was arrested after CBP officials said they found 23 pounds of cocaine hidden in their electric wheelchair.

Officers did not connect the two, but did note that both passengers who were caught smuggling drugs in electric wheelchairs were flying into the United States from the Dominican Republic.

Attorney information for Ruiz was not immediately available, WCAU reported.

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