The Washington Post

Heroin ‘lamp shades’ lead to arrests

The overseas package was making its way to a home in Northwest Washington last week when customs officers decided to open it at John F. Kennedy Airport.

Inside, officers found pillow covers and 11 “various decorative lamp shades,” D.C. police wrote in court papers. As they began to take the lamp shades apart, a detective wrote, the officers quickly discovered something suspicious — 70 “thin strips of a paper-like substance attached” to the frames.

Upon closer inspection, the officers noticed that the frames contained a “brown powdery substance” that tested positive for heroin. A lot of it.

The strips and the heroin weighed just over 2 pounds, police said.

Customs officers alerted D.C. police, and detectives allowed the package to be delivered to its intended destination — a house in the 1600 block of Montana Ave. NE.

On Wednesday, the package was delivered, a woman accepted it and another man came and picked it up, according to authorities. As he tried to drive away with the box, police arrested him.

Charged with possessing and intending to distribute heroin were Gary Allen Lewis, 42, of Southeast Washington, and Gretchen Helm, 40. They were being held Friday at the D.C. jail.

D.C. police declined to say where the package originated. In court papers, they identified the shipper simply as “Chijoke Kamarapalaym, JKK College, MOB: 995376101.”


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