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Oct. 9, 2012

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Baggage with Heroin Leads to Arrest at IAH

HOUSTON - Mexican citizen Yessica Chanel Cabanillas-Torres, 21, has been arrested following the discovery of heroin in her luggage as she arrived at Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Cabanillas-Torres is charged with possession with intent to distribute and importation of one kilogram or more of heroin.

She is expected to appear for a preliminary examination and detention hearing tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.

The criminal complaint alleges that on Oct. 4, 2012, Cabanillas-Torres arrived at IAH aboard United Airlines flight 1036 from Quito, Ecuador, en route to Newark, N.J. Upon her arrival, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers conducted a passport screening and, based upon answers she provided regarding her travel, referred her for a baggage examination to search for potential prohibited items.  

At the initial baggage examination, she stated she was going to visit her taxi cab driver boyfriend, whom she met on Facebook, according to the complaint. She allegedly further stated she was going to be in New Jersey for three days and that she was a law student in Mexico. 

She admitted she was responsible for the baggage and its contents, the complaint states. CBP officers noted she was traveling with two FILA brand hard sided suitcases which did not contain a lot of clothing. No contraband was found in her personal effects, according to the complaint, but CBP officers noticed the two suitcases were allegedly unusually heavy.   

The baggage was emptied and x-rayed which revealed anomalies along the inner frame of the luggage. Based on those anomalies and the unusual weight, officers drilled into the two suitcases and discovered a brown powdery substance which allegedly field tested positive for the presence of heroin. The first suitcase yielded approximately 1.2 kilograms of heroin, according to the complaint. The second piece of luggage is awaiting further examination. 

If convicted, Cabanillas-Torres faces at least 10 years and up to life in prison as well as a $5 million fine.

The case was investigated by CBP and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Arthur R. Jones is prosecuting the case.