ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Emmanuel Rios, 23, of Rhode Island, was sentenced today to 70 months in prison, followed by four years of supervised release, for attempting to smuggle $500,000 worth of heroin concealed in juice boxes through Dulles International Airport following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s Homeland Security Investigations in Washington, D.C.
On Feb. 26, 2010, Rios pled guilty to conspiring to distribute heroin. According to court documents, Rios arrived at Dulles from a flight originating in Guatemala and Customs and Border Protection agents discovered two small crates containing Incaparina juice boxes inside his luggage. Each of the two packages had 24 separate juice boxes bundled together, and the CBP officer noticed the packages did not contain a liquid. Instead, the boxes contained a light brown powdery substance wrapped within a condom.
Although Rios claimed the contents contained a powder that should be dissolved in water to become a fruit juice, the powder was tested and found to be heroin. The officers collected 41 condom-wrapped pellets, which contained a total weight of 4,974 grams of heroin – a street value in Washington, D.C., of approximately $500,000.
“This heroin seizure is an excellent example of the partnership between CBP and ICE, which relies on experienced officers and agents to stem the flow of illicit drugs at Washington-Dulles International Airport,” said Christopher Hess, CBP port director for the Port of Washington.
ICE is the largest investigative arm of DHS, charged with preventing terrorist and criminal activity by targeting the people, money, and materials that support terrorist and criminal organizations. As the primary U.S. law enforcement agency tasked with investigating transnational narcotics smuggling, ICE agents have extensive knowledge of the border environment and techniques employed by smuggling organizations to transport contraband into the United States. This expertise has been gained through years of experience in conducting undercover operations, utilizing confidential informants, special enforcement operations and conducting contraband smuggling investigations.
Each year, contraband valued at hundreds of millions of dollars is intercepted at our nation’s borders. Contraband items include drugs and weapons but also counterfeit goods, illegal electronics, incorrectly manifested cargo, illegal cigarettes, ancient artifacts, wildlife, and child pornography.