Cocaine cache found in candy jars at New York's JFK airport

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 22, 2016 4:35 PM

By Marcus E. Howard

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A woman accused of stashing about 10 pounds of cocaine in candy jars in her luggage at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport faces narcotics possession and trafficking charges, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said on Friday.

Petra Hoyos-Bravo, 51, was arrested on Monday as she flew in from Mexico City, the agency said in a statement, noting that CBP officers found nearly $200,000 of cocaine in her luggage.

Hoyos-Bravo was charged on Tuesday, and is scheduled to appear in Queens County Criminal Court on May 3.

"This latest seizure demonstrates the vigilance of our CBP officers, and their excellence in detecting those who would try to smuggle these illegal substances," Robert Perez, the agency's director of field operations New York, said in a statement.

In 2009, the CBP reported seizing more than 135,000 pounds of cocaine, and other illegal drugs including 4.3 million pounds of marijuana, 2,015 pounds of heroin and more than 6,000 pounds of methamphetamine.

A police report reviewed by Reuters said Hoyos-Bravo, who provided a Yonkers, New York address, admitted to the charges.

She did not have an attorney, Queens County District Attorney's office spokeswoman Ikimulisa Livingston said in a phone interview.

Hoyos-Bravo was initially listed under the surname Medarda by the CBP.

CBP said its agriculture specialists were performing an X-ray examination of Hoyos-Bravo's luggage when they noticed "rectangular-shaped objects" and found packages concealed inside a few containers of what appeared to be wafer stick candy.

The white powder found inside eight brick-size packages tested positive for cocaine, which had an estimated street value of $175,000, the agency said.

(Reporting by Marcus E. Howard; Editing by Richard Chang)