U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston caught an airline passenger trying to smuggle 35 pounds of liquid cocaine in shampoo bottles into the country earlier this week, the agency said in a press release.
The CBP said officers discovered the bottles containing cocaine valued at more than $400,000 in the checked luggage of a 26-year-old Colombian citizen Monday after observing him at baggage claim and conducting a bag search. A K-9 search indicated the presence of narcotics, backed up by testing.
“Our officers are the first line of defense at our ports of entry, so they are trained in the various smuggling methods people use to bring illicit goods into the U.S.,” CBP Port Director Shawn Polley said in the press release. “We take every opportunity to intercept those illicit goods before they enter our communities, in this case, it was 35 pounds of liquid cocaine.”
Related: Suspected Cocaine Smugglers Throw Bags From Boat
CPB spokeswoman Yolanda Choates told USA TODAY that the suspect was not arrested or charged before he was sent back. She explained that her agency only presents cases and does not bring charges; it's up to the Department of Justice or local law enforcement to do so.
USA TODAY has reached out to the Houston Police Department and prosecutors for comment.
— CBP (@CBP) November 14, 2019
While liquid cocaine has gained popularity in the past few years, it was reportedly pioneered by Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar during his heyday in the 1980s and early '90s, his son revealed in his 2014 book, "Pablo Escobar, My Father.
Juan Pablo Escobar claimed that his father and his Medillín cartel cohorts would soak shipments of denim in liquid cocaine. Once they arrived at their destination, they would be soaked in a special solution to extract it and then dry the cocaine.
Couriers have also been known to swallow packets of liquid cocaine, a tactic that is harder for police to spot than pellets or powder since it requires a CT scanner to detect, the National Institutes of Health says.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Houston airport: Man tried to smuggle in 35 pounds of liquid cocaine