DULLES, Va.–In less than one week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, along with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents, arrested two Nigerian men allegedly attempting to smuggle heroin inside their persons. Both were arrested at Washington Dulles International Airport.
“ICE HSI agents and CBP officers continue their close collaboration to ensure that drug smugglers are identified and apprehended,” said John P. Torres, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Washington, D.C. “ICE HSI is committed to working with our federal, state and local partners to investigate those individuals and organizations that attempt to exploit perceived vulnerabilities at our borders.”
Court documents show that based on leads from ICE HSI, CBP officers arrested Yomade Aborishade, 46, Lagos, Nigeria, Sunday after he passed 100 thumb-sized pellets that allegedly field-tested positive for heroin at a local hospital. The pellet’s combined weighed is a little more than four pounds. It has an approximate street value of nearly $129,000.
Additionally, CBP officers arrested Edobor Okenwa, 45, of Lagos, Nigeria, on March 25 after he passed 88 pellets of a substance that allegedly field-tested positive for heroin. The heroin weighed nearly four pounds and had an approximate street value of nearly $125,000.
Aborishade initially arrived at Washington Dulles on Wednesday, five days after Okenwa.
Both Nigerians were turned over to ICE HSI agents who are investigating the failed smuggling attempts. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia is prosecuting this case.
“Internal narcotics smuggling is a fairly uncommon occurrence at Dulles,” said Christopher Hess, CBP Port Director for the Port of Washington. “To apprehend two from the same country in less than a week raises serious concerns for Customs and Border Protection. CBP remains committed to working with our federal enforcement partners to put an end to this smuggling method.”
According to court documents, both arrests offered similar stories. Okenwa and Aborishade arrived at Dulles on March 24 and March 30, respectively. Both men were referred for secondary interviews. CBP officers detected inconsistencies in their reasons for visiting the U.S. Both men’s stomachs seemed distended and x-rays at local hospitals revealed foreign bodies in their persons. Okenwa passed 88 pellets that weighed 1,769 grams, or 3 pounds, 14 ounces. Aborishade passed 100 pellets that weighed 1825 grams, or 4 pounds, 0.34 ounces.
“CBP officers are trained to read non-verbal communications and to detect inconsistencies in passengers’ stories. It is hugely satisfying when that training results in the prosecution of an alleged heroin smuggler and the destruction of his deadly poison,” said Hess.
Ingesting narcotics pellets for smuggling is a high-risk proposition for the carrier. It can lead to incarceration when they are caught, and lead to an almost certain and painful overdose should a pellet breach inside a carrier’s intestines.
CBP routinely conducts random inspection operations on arriving and departing passengers searching for narcotics, currency, weapons and other prohibited or illicit products.
ICE HSI investigates narcotics smuggling organizations and the methods utilized to smuggle contraband across U.S. borders. Smuggling methods include the use of high-speed vessels, cargo containers, aircraft, commercial trucking, commercial vessel and human carriers. HSI agents enforce a wide range of criminal statutes including general smuggling issues as well as customs violations and the importation, distribution, manufacture and possession of illegal narcotics. The methods used by smuggling organizations are always changing and through continued training, the use of emerging technologies and dedication, HSI has maintained its expertise in disrupting and dismantling these criminal organizations.