A man traveling from Colombia to Japan had his luggage flagged by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for a suspicious substance inside packages of foot files as he waited for a connecting flight at DFW Airport on Sunday.
The suspect, identified as Hirofumi Zuinaga, was found to be in possession of 6,600 grams of cocaine hidden inside 200 wooden foot files in his luggage, court documents show. The cocaine had an estimated street value of $660,000.
A special agent with ICE and Homeland Security Investigations said in a criminal complaint filed Monday in federal court in Fort Worth that Zuinaga’s inconsistent statements led to his arrest on a charge of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
If he’s convicted on the charge, he faces a possible jail sentence of 10 years or more.
U.S. Customs officials had been monitoring Zuinaga based on intelligence they received that he was possibly in possession of a controlled substance, courts documents stated.
He was carrying a red carry-on bag and retrieved another blue hard case suitcase from the baggage claims area before he stopped by the customs inspection area. A canine alerted officers that something suspicious was inside his luggage.
An X-ray scan detected anomalies in eight packages of wooden foot files in his luggage, the court documents stated. CBP officers removed a small foil-like package hidden in one of the foot files containing 33 grams of cocaine, agents said. The eight packages of foot files had a total of 200 files and an estimated 6,600 grams of suspected cocaine, the court documents showed.
When questioned by authorities, Zuinaga said he traveled to Bogota to sightsee and gave conflicting stories about how he came by the packages.
Zuinaga told agents he met an unknown black male and another man known to Zuinaga as “Mandel” at Cafe OMO in Bogota where the unknown black male gave him the packages as a gift. In return he gave the pair 1,000 yen ($8.98 in U.S. dollars) since he did not have a gift to give them, the court documents said.
Zuinaga claimed he didn’t know what was inside of the wood foot files, but later told agents he lied about where he obtained the packages because, ‘Mandel,’ instructed him to.
The seized cocaine was turned over to authorities and Zuinaga remains in custody.
He chose to waive his detention hearing meaning he will remain in custody until he has a trial, according to Janet Pearre, Justice Department spokeswoman for the Northern District of Texas.
A trial date has not been set at this time.