Traveler Busted At Airport Says Heroin Was For Grandmother

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An air traveler caught trying to smuggle $50,000 worth of heroin into the country told customs officials the drugs were for his ailing grandmother.

The Free Press reports customs inspectors at Detroit Metro Airport found two pill bottles full of 490 heroin tablets in the luggage of Steven Patong Thao, 53.

A criminal complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Detroit says Thao had a layover in Detroit on Sunday while in transit from Narita, Japan to his home state of Oklahoma.

When the drugs were discovered, Thao initially told agents he had a prescription and presented a false document for the pills. According to the complaint, Thao said his nephew bought the capsules for him at a clinic in Laos, where his trip originated, for his diabetes and high blood pressure.

After the drugs tested positive for opium, authorities pressed Thao further by informing him heroin distribution is a serious crime in the U.S.

"Am I really going to jail? ... What can I do to help myself?" Thao asked. After investigators told him to just be honest, Thao said the pills were a form of pain relief for his grandmother.

After being released on a $10,000 bond, Thao is headed back to Oklahoma. He is due back in Michigan for a court hearing at the end of January.

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