Golden, crispy skin. Black specks of roasty goodness. Ample meat wrapped gently in foil to keep flavor in. They looked like four plump, tasty cooked chickens.
But they were chickens of lies, border officials said.
The fake roasted birds were actually hiding $300,000 of heroin smuggled in from Mexico City, and now, a woman faces federal drug charges for allegedly smuggling the illicit stuffing into the United States.
“Our CBP officers and agriculture specialists experience and vigilance was a key component in this significant narcotic seizure,” Frank Russo, acting director of Custom and Border Protection’s New York Field Office, said in a statement.
According to CBP, a U.S. citizen named Emma Soriano was flying to John F. Kennedy International Airport from Mexico City. She landed and departed the plane on July 17.
Then, during a luggage check, officials uncovered the four “chickens” and discovered they were actually just egg-shaped packages hiding nearly 10 pounds of drugs inside, according to CBP.
The drugs were seized and Soriano was arrested and now faces federal drug smuggling complaints, according to officials. Her case was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations and will now be prosecuted by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District Court of New York, CBP said.
It was only a small fraction of the 3,700 pounds of heroin CBP said it intercepted at U.S. ports of entry this fiscal year.
It’s only the latest odd alleged attempt at smuggling drugs through the United States in unassuming objects. Police found $1.5 million worth of meth in bags of “Mexican candy” in Alabama in April, and agents uncovered another $331,000 of meth in canned jalapenos the next month.