Federal authorities arrested a Long Beach man on July 27 as he allegedly attempted to smuggle methamphetamine disguised as candy bars out of Los Angeles International Airport.
As Rogelio Mauricio Harris, 34, was passing through LAX security to board a flight to Japan, agents conducting routine inspections discovered a box of 45 individually wrapped candy bars in his possession. Upon closer examination, authorities noticed that each bar was coated in a chocolate-like ingredient and also contained a white substance that was later determined to be meth.
“This scheme involved considerable planning and preparation and it shows the lengths to which smugglers will go in an attempt to elude detection,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles. “The fact this ruse was detected should serve as a deterrent for others who might be considering trying similar tactics to conceal dangerous contraband.”
The candy bars contained approximately four pounds of meth, estimated to be worth as much as $250,000 in Japan, according to Department of Homeland Security investigators. Similar attempts to smuggle meth disguised as candy have included easter eggs, food bags and cans of refried beans, according to DHS.
“This seizure is a great example of the enforcement work that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers perform every day at our ports of entry, to not only keep illegal contraband and illegal criminal proceeds from entering the country, but from leaving the country as well,” said Todd C. Owen, CBP director of field operation in Los Angeles. “Our officers were diligent in their border security duties and prevented over four pounds of methamphetamine from making it to Japan.”
Harris is expected to make his court appeareance on Monday and is being charged with possession of meth with intent to distribute, which carries a mandatory minimum charge of 10 years in prison and a life maximum.