This image released by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shows the heroin pellets (AFP/CBP)
WASHINGTON (AFP) — A Nigerian woman was arrested at an airport outside Washington after ingesting nearly five pounds (over two kilograms) of heroin pellets, in what US officials called the biggest bust of its kind.
US Customs and Border Protection officers first grew suspicious of Bola Adebisi after her arrival from Nigeria on March 14, when she claimed she was staying with her brother in the United States but was unable to provide his address, phone number or a physical description.
An agent at Washington Dulles International Airport then found her stomach to be particularly rigid during a routine pat down.
The 52-year-old was taken to a local hospital, where an X-ray detected a large amount of unusual objects in her stomach. And she then began passing pellets, according to the CBP.
After three days, Adebisi passed a total of 180 thumb-sized pellets for a combined weight of 4 pounds, 12 ounces (2,157 grams). The heroin has an approximate street value of about $150,000.
The seizure surpassed the previous record for ingested pellets, held by Yomade Aborishade, 46, of Lagos, Nigeria, who was arrested a year ago after expelling 100 pellets of heroin with a combined weight of a little more than four pounds (1,814 grams).
"The amount of pellets and heroin this woman ingested is incredible, a serious health risk, and very troubling if these numbers become the new normal," said Christopher Hess, CBP port director for the Port of Washington.
"We're hopeful that this arrest sends a strong signal that CBP officers are proving to be successful at detecting internal concealment methods, and that we remain committed to working with our law enforcement partners and intercepting this deadly poison before it can reach our communities."
CBP officers have turned Adebisi over to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations agents, and the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia is prosecuting the case.
"We have seen larger smuggling attempts, but usually concealed inside suitcases, commercial goods or by other concealment methods," CBP spokesman Steve Sapp told AFP. "This is the largest, in pellet count and weight, by a swallower."