Saturday, October 14, 2017

Airline passengers accused of hiding cocaine in their neck pillows

NEWARK -- Two airline flyers face drug distribution charges after customs officers found more than 6 kilograms of cocaine sewn inside the neck pillows they were carrying at Newark Liberty International Airport, federal officials said Thursday.

Rafael Francisco Bautista Perdomo, and Brenda Alyssa Mancebo, both 20, were arrested Wednesday after they arrived on a flight from Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, according to authorities.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered approximately 3 kilograms of cocaine in each of two neck pillows, which the duo brought as carry on items on the flight, authorities said. Officers uncovered the contraband during routine baggage screening.

Perdomo admitted he agreed to transport the drug-filled pillow from the Dominican Republic to Newark in exchange for about $10,000, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case. He claimed not to know Mancebo

She also initially told federal agents she didn't recognize Perdomo, but that claim was apparently debunked by photos that investigators found on her cell phone, the court document stated.

"Law enforcement conducted a lawful search of Mancebo's phone, where law enforcement discovered multiple pictures of Perdomo that appeared to have been taken by Perdomo himself," a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations said in court papers.

There was also a saved photo of the pair together days before the arrest, according to the compliant.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Perdomo and Mancebo were ordered detained without bail after a hearing in Newark federal court.

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