LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Several pounds of opium concealed in a rice cooker and a jar, plus nearly 2,000 prescription pills were seized during a baggage inspection at Los Angeles International Airport, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.
Sam Saeed Shariat, 63, a U.S. citizen, was arrested after the contraband, worth an estimated $109,800, was discovered in his luggage as he arrived from Iran via Turkey, CBP officials said.
CBP officials say the rice cooker, next to a bag of fresh garlic, initially appeared empty, but when it was turned upside down, aluminum foil was visible through the spaces underneath. After dismantling it, the officers found three pounds of the black opium narcotic coated with cinnamon, wrapped in clear cellophane plastic, according to officials.
Officers also found a glass jar with a dark jelly-like substance they determined was also opium in the same suitcase, officials said. That jar weighed more than two pounds.
Officers inspecting another checked-in bag discovered 1,934 pills – 985 methadone, 810 alprazolam and 139 valium.
“Smugglers who attempt to fool CBP officers with clever concealment methods, fool themselves,” CBP Director of Field Operations Todd Owen said in a statement. “Our officers have extensive, ongoing training and very keen instincts for detecting unique concealment techniques.”