This past Tuesday, a man was arrested after landing for a layover at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina after, officials claim, he faked a disability in order to try and hide a total of 23 pounds of cocaine under the cushions of the seat of his motorized wheelchair.
Aged 22, Alexander Antonio Lopez-Morel was making his way out to Newark, New Jersey after leaving the Dominican Republic before he was stopped by agents od the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) who discovered a set of four packages of the deadly drug hidden within his wheelchair seat cushion, as reported by WSOC-TV 9.
“His answers didn’t match up. His physical purported handicap did not match up. That was a tell-tale sign that there was something suspicious,” stated Special Agent Mike Prado with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
The total estimated street value of the 23 pounds of cocaine that was confiscated was roughly $378,000, as reported in a CBP press release that went on Friday.
“That’s unbelievable. That’s crazy,” exclaimed Richard Killian, another passenger at the airport at the time. “What I am really upset and concerned about are our young people being bombarded with drugs.”
The CBP stated that Lopez-Morel is, in fact, a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Currently, investigators think that the suspected drug trafficker, in addition to many other drug dealers, make use of Charlotte Airport due to its “size and location on the East Coast.”
As stated by a report from WSOC-TV 9, “Drug trafficking through Charlotte Douglas is such a concern that Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and local police launched a new border enforcement security task force in March.”
Since back in 2021, investigators have taken well over $5 million from various drug dealers that have been attempting to make use of the airport to try and traffic meth, cocaine, fentanyl, and marijuana.
Lopez-Morel was slammed with a felony charge of trafficking cocaine and his drug packages, along with his wheelchair, were shipped over to HSI for furth and more extensive investigation.
“This seizure demonstrates the dynamic border environment in which CBP officers operate at CLT,” stated Barry Chastain, the CBP Charlotte Area Port Director. “Our officers are determined to adapt and respond to these threats in an effort to stop narcotics reaching our communities.”