U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Los Angeles International Airport said they seized ropes and cords saturated in cocaine from passenger luggage at the Tom Bradley International Terminal earlier this month.

The gross weights of the cocaine saturated ropes and cords attached to backpacks were 8.49 pounds and 12.67 pounds, respectively, a CBP spokesperson said.

CBP officers had referred two male U.S. citizens, ages 20 and 21, arriving from Panama City, Panama for further inspection March 15. During inspection of their luggage, officers allegedly found approximately seven ropes and approximately 40 canvas backpacks with attached cords, the CBP spokesman said. All of the ropes and backpacks were individually packaged and appeared to be commercially packed.

Both passengers claimed that they had purchased the items at a swap meet in Panama, and one of them claimed that he was bringing the ropes for his personal use to tie up his fishing boat, according to CBP.

However, customs officers said they detected that the ropes and backpacks’ black cords were stiff and had irregular tension, and the ropes also emitted a chemical odor. After the officers tested fibers from the ropes and cords for narcotics, the materials were allegedly found to have traces of cocaine, the CBP spokesman said.

The passengers and narcotics were turned over to agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. Both men were arrested for possession of a controlled substance, according to CBP.

“This is another prime example of our astute CBP officers continuous discovery of clever concealment methods,” said Carlos Martel, acting director of the Los Angeles Field Office.

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