Customs Officers Seize Opium at LAX

Customs and Border Protection officials at Los Angeles International Airport say officers seized nearly 9 pounds of opium, hidden in an arriving passenger's luggage. It's the second such find in eight days.

In the latest incident, officials said Tuesday they found the drug hidden in the lining of two suitcases belonging to a 28-year-old U.S. citizen, as he arrived at LAX on a flight from Amsterdam last week.

The estimated worth of the 8.82 pounds of opium is $52,000.

The man was later reported to be Ricardo Rodriguez, Jr. of California. He was arrested and charged with importing a controlled substance.

Customs officials said the suitcases were flagged because they were unusually heavy. In the lining, officers found five packages of opium wrapped in carbon paper and cellophane.

"Our CBP-LAX Officers' vigilance and expertise in narcotics interdiction at the frontline is commendable. Their keen skills and observations uncover creative concealments and new trends on a regular basis," said CBP Acting Director of Los Angeles Field Office Carlos Martel.

Earlier this month, an Iranian national was arrested after officials found 4.6 pounds of opium in his hand luggage, hidden in a false bottom. The man, who lives in the U.S., had flown in from London.

Photo, Department of Homeland Security
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