Woman Arrested After Discovery of $450,000 Worth of Cocaine Hidden in Wheelchair

The arrest occurred last month at John F. Kennedy International Airport and began with border cops noticing the wheels on the wheelchair were not moving.

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A woman was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport this month after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered what they later said was $450,000 of cocaine inside the wheels of a wheelchair.

Per a report from the Associated Press, Emelinda Paulino De Riva was arrested following a flight from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic on Nov. 10. Initially, CBP officers claim to have identified an “anomaly” in the woman’s wheelchair, the wheels of which were allegedly not turning as they normally would.

Further investigation, including an x-ray, resulted in the discovery of a powder officers claim tested positive for cocaine. De Rivas was ultimately arrested and charged with importation of a controlled substance in connection with the alleged 28-pound cocaine haul. A press release from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection regarding the incident, cringe-inducingly, begins with a reference to a popular children’s song. 

As cocaine news enthusiasts will recall, this isn’t the first such instance of this variety to spur headlines. In July, for example, a man was arrested and charged with felony trafficking at Charlotte Douglas International Airport after allegedly being found with 23 pounds of cocaine hidden in the seat cushions of a wheelchair.

Of course, as drug law revision advocates have long argued, all the time and money funneled toward self-reverential busts of this kind could be put to better use with a stand-down on the so-called “war on drugs.” Back in 2020, notably, CBP was revealed to have settled a federal lawsuit focused on the agency’s “pattern of abusive seizures and investigations.”

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