N.J. woman charged with smuggling cocaine in shoes

These shoes were used in an attempt to smuggle more than four pounds of cocaine into the U.S., officials say. (Customs and Border Protection)
These shoes were used in an attempt to smuggle more than four pounds of cocaine into the U.S., officials say. (Customs and Border Protection)
Posted: June 01, 2013

Strolling through airport security with what might have appeared to be normal accessories for a Jamaican vacation - a few pairs of strappy wedge sandals - a Camden woman didn't seem so normal to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at Philadelphia International Airport.

After pulling aside Iveliza Tuhanna Perez, 25, for a check of her baggage Thursday afternoon, customs officials said, they found more than four pounds of cocaine stuffed inside the wedge parts of three pairs of shoes.

"Officer[s] are trained to detect . . . nonverbal communication," Customs spokesman Stephen Sapp said.

Perez, who records show lives in a North Camden public housing high-rise, was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute. She was stopped while returning from Montego Bay.

The investigation continues, Sapp said.

While checking her bags, an officer found three pairs of "unusually heavy" cork wedge shoes, the agency said in a statement.

"An X-ray detected anomalies inside the sole and heel of all six shoes," the statement said.

Those anomalies were four pounds, seven ounces of powder cocaine worth about $140,000, the agency said.

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office is handling the case, but it could go to federal prosecutors, Sapp said.


Contact Claudia Vargas at 856-779-3917, cvargas@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @InqCVargas. Read her blog, "Camden Flow," at www.philly.com/camden_flow.

 

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