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CBP finds unlikely smuggler on Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve seizure

The older woman traveling from Ghana to Washington Dulles International Airport on Christmas Eve didn’t really look like a smuggler, but Customs and Border Protection agents know looks can be deceiving.

Nana Tweneboah arrived at Dulles on a flight from Ghana, via Amsterdam, shortly after 3 p.m. Christmas Eve, said CBP. She was reportedly destined to an address in Alexandria, VA, to visit with her son and daughter.

However, CBP said the “present” Tweneboah had in her luggage now has the 68-year-old woman facing federal narcotics smuggling charges.

According to court documents, CBP officers noticed Tweneboah’s black suitcase remained unusually heavy despite being emptied of its contents. A CBP officer inspected the lining of the suitcase and discovered a large, single package concealed within the bottom lining of the suitcase. That package allegedly contained a brown, powdery substance, a sample of which field-tested positive for heroin.

According to CBP, the substance weighed 5,183.1 grams, or 11 pounds, 6.8 ounces and estimated the drugs had a street value of approximately $365,000.

CBP officers turned Tweneboah and the suspected heroin over to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). CBP also placed a detainer on Tweneboah for her to be returned to CBP upon adjudication of her charges.

“Nefarious criminal organizations think they can take advantage of U.S. holidays to sneak in their deadly poison, but this seizure and arrest should be a warning to all that Customs and Border Protection officers don’t take a holiday,” said Christopher Hess, CBP port director for the Port of Washington, D.C. “Narcotics interdiction at our nation’s borders is one of CBP’s priority enforcement missions, and one that we take very seriously.”

According to CBP, during fiscal year 2012, -- between Oct. 1, 2011 and Sept. 30, CBP officers at Dulles intercepted a little more than 61 pounds of heroin in 16 seizures.