LOS ANGELES, Calif. (WTVR) — A Long Beach, Calif., man faces federal charges after he attempted to smuggle more than four pounds of methamphetamine out of the United States– packaged to resemble a candy bar.
Rogelio Mauricio Harris, 34, was arrested Friday at Los Angeles International airport by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), as he prepared to board a flight to Japan.
Feds made the arrest came after officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conducted a routine baggage inspection and became suspicious of what appeared to be a large box of candy bars inside Harris’ checked luggage.
Upon closer inspection, CBP officers discovered that the 45 individually wrapped, full-sized “candy bars” were methamphetamine. According to the criminal complaint, each bar “was coated in a chocolate-like substance to make the contents of the package appear to be a real candy bar.”
Those phony candy bars contained approximately 1,900 grams or just over four pounds of methamphetamine, said officials. HSI special agents said the seized contraband would have sold for as much as $250,000 on the streets in Japan.
Harris is charged in a federal criminal complaint with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Investigators said that this is just the latest ruse used by smugglers attempting to transport illegal drugs through LAX.
Officials said that other recent attempts have involved concealed contraband in Easter eggs, snack food bags and cans of refried beans.
“The fact this ruse was detected should serve as a deterrent for others who might be considering trying similar tactics to conceal dangerous contraband,” Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles, said.