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Contraband Tamales

Most unusual drug bust ever? Man's ingenious smuggling plan exposed at Houston airport

Cocaine stuffed tamales
Border patrol agents at George Bush Intercontinental Airport seized nine bags of cocaine concealed inside tamales. Photo courtesy CBP
Cocaine stuffed tamales
The cocaine weighed about 7 ounces. Photo courtesy CBP
Cocaine stuffed tamales
Cocaine stuffed tamales

A man traveling from Houston to New York on Aug. 20 aroused suspicion when he failed to disclose he was carrying 200 tamales in his luggage.

While there's nothing illegal about transporting traditional tamales, something caused the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at George Bush Intercontinental Airport to take a closer look at the homemade food. When they did, officers discovered nine of the tamales looked a little different than the rest.

Instead of being stuffed with beef or vegetables, they were full of white powder. The substance tested positive for cocaine. Authorities seized the contraband tamales containing nearly 7 ounces of cocaine and turned the 46-year-old El Salvadorian man over to the Houston Police Department.

His name has not been released.

“This type of seizure speaks to our level of commitment in disrupting criminal activity despite the concealment method,” customs director Beverly Good said in a statement.

Depending on the cocaine's purity, the 7-ounce seizure could be worth up to $14,000.

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