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$450,000 worth of cocaine seized from wheelchair wheels at JFK airport, customs officials say

This photo provided by U. S. Customs and Border Protection shows cocaine seized by customs officers from a traveler who was smuggling the drugs in the wheels of her wheelchair at New York's Kennedy International Airport. The bust happened Nov. 10, 2022, when Customs and Border Patrol officers stopped a woman traveling from Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic with a wheelchair whose wheels weren't turning, the agency said in a news release. (U. S. Customs and Border Protection via AP)

(CNN) — A traveler at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport was arrested after $450,000 worth of cocaine was discovered hidden in the wheels of her wheelchair.

The traveler arrived in New York City from the Dominican Republic on November 10, according to a news release from US Customs and Border Protection. Officers noticed the wheels on her wheelchair were not turning and X-rayed the wheelchair.

They discovered a white powder, which later tested positive for cocaine in all four wheels, the news release stated. It amounted to a total of 28 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of around $450,000.

The traveler was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and turned over to Homeland Security Investigations, according to the news release. She is now facing federal narcotics smuggling charges.

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

“CBP’s mission is to guard the borders and ports of entry 24/7, 365 days a year to prevent these dangerous drugs from potentially killing our family, friends, and neighbors.”

A total of 24,538 overdose deaths were attributed to cocaine in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.