In a decidedly unique twist on drug-smuggling, a Central American man was arrested for trying to sneak cocaine through Dulles International Airport by stuffing 15 bags of the illicit substance into clams, authorities reported Thursday.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, David Pocasangre Vaquiz, 26, of El Salvador, was caught Saturday while going through a routine security inspection after arriving on a flight from Panama.
Inside his luggage, customs officers found a black plastic bag filled with 80 clams. An X-ray revealed that 15 of the bivalves had been opened, stuffed with baggies of cocaine, and glued shut.
“Smugglers attempt all types of creative concealment methods to sneak their deadly poison into the United States, and this is one of the oddest we’ve seen,” Christopher Hess, director of D.C. Customs and Border Protection, said in a statement.
Authorities said there was 5.36 ounces of cocaine in the clams, valued at approximately $10,000.
That is a relatively small amount of cocaine when compared to other recent instances of attempts to smuggle drugs through Dulles. In June 2010, a Pennsylvania man was arrested after he was caught carrying about 4.5 pounds of cocaine — concealed in powdered-soup packets — with an estimated street value of $140,000. In March 2011, a man from Nigeria was arrested after authorities discovered the he had ingested nearly four pounds of heroin, valued at $125,000.
“This passenger took an enormous risk for only five ounces of cocaine,” Hess said of Pocasangre Vaquiz, “and he now faces very serious narcotics smuggling charges.”
Pocasangre Vaquiz’s preliminary hearing is Oct. 5 on charges of transporting narcotics into Virginia and possession with intent to distribute.