LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A Long Beach man is facing federal charges for allegedly trying to smuggle more than four pounds of methamphetamine out of the United States packaged to look like a Snickers bar.

Rogelio Mauricio Harris, 34, was arrested Friday by federal customs agents as he was trying to board a flight to Japan at Los Angeles International Airport.

Agents became suspicious of Harris after finding a large box of candy bars inside the suspect’s luggage during a routine bag inspection, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Homeland Security Investigations.

That’s when authorities found 45 individually wrapped, full-sized “candy bars” that contained a white substance later determined to be meth.

According to the criminal complaint, each bar “was coated in a chocolate-like substance to make the contents of the package appear to be a real candy bar.”

The phony bars contained about 1,900 grams or more than four pounds of meth. Authorities said the seized contraband would have sold for about $250,000 on the street in Japan.

Harris is charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. The charge carries a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison.

“This scheme involved considerable planning and preparation and it shows the lengths to which smugglers will go in an attempt to elude detection,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “The fact this ruse was detected should serve as a deterrent for others who might be considering trying similar tactics to conceal dangerous contraband.”

Investigators said the imposter candy bar packaging is just the latest ruse used by smugglers trying to transport illegal drugs through the airport.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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