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Airline passenger arrested by ICE for attempting to smuggle approximately 5 kilograms of cocaine into the US

ATLANTA - Paulo Jorge Dias Santos, 41, of Lisbon, Portugal, was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) special agents on June 26 for importing and possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute after arriving at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Santos appeared before U. S. Magistrate Judge Alan Baverman today and was ordered held pending the disposition of the case.

U. S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, "Atlanta is not only a major ground hub for drug trafficking but our busy international airport is also a magnet for those who think they can easily bring drugs into the United States."

"International drug traffickers who think they can use our ports to smuggle their drugs are mistaken," said Brock Nicholson, ICE HSI acting special agent in charge in Atlanta.

"ICE agents, CBP officers and federal prosecutors are working more closely than ever to ensure that traffickers are stopped and brought to justice." Customs and Border Protection Director of Operations in Atlanta Robert C. Gomez said, "U.S. Customs and Border Protection is committed to working with federal, state and local agencies to ensure narcotics traffickers are interdicted at our ports of entry and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This case shows how our cooperative efforts are achieving positive results."

On June 26, 2010, Santos arrived at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on a flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Law enforcement officers noticed something about his behavior that caused them to investigate further. During a secondary customs inspection, law enforcement officers recovered a total of approximately five kilograms of cocaine that had been concealed inside 11 plastic-wrapped magazine covers in Santos' suitcase. Santos was scheduled to make two more stops in the United States before reaching his final destination in London, England.

The criminal complaint filed in this case charges Santos with one count each of importation of cocaine and possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute. The investigation continues into Santos and the drugs he was carrying through the airport.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta recommends parents and children learn about the dangers of drugs at the following web site: www.justthinktwice.com.

This case is being investigated by ICE HSI special agents. Assistant U. S. Attorney David E. Suchar is prosecuting the case.