May 21st, 2010
12:28 PM ET

Man accused of smuggling 15 pounds of cocaine in candy

Officials say Robert Lopera tried to smuggle 15 pounds of cocaine in these chocolate candies and in pistachios.

Being a drug mule isn't usually such a sweet deal.

But authorities say it was sweet for Robert Lopera, who is accused of trying to smuggle in 15 pounds of cocaine concealed in chocolate candies and pistachios - until he was arrested at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on May 11.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection stopped Lopera, a U.S. citizen, as he was trying to enter the country from Medellin, Colombia.

Lopera was selected for a baggage check, whereupon he handed over a suitcase and duffel bag.

According the to the complaint filed in the Eastern District of New York federal court, a customs officer found a gift package in the suitcase containing several boxes of chocolates and bags of pistachios. The bag seemed a little heavy for only candies and nuts.

Instead of their usual fate of being devoured, officials say, the Ferrero Rocher chocolates were poked and prodded until it was determined that they were filled with cocaine, as were the pistachio shells. Had these treats reached the streets, they could have brought close to $500,000.

Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are continuing to investigate the drugs' intended destination.

Lopera has been charged with illegal importation of cocaine and awaits federal prosecution.

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Filed under: Colombia • New York • U.S. • World
soundoff (135 Responses)
  1. jillejo

    If we decriminalized all of it, the desire to smuggle it this way would disappear.

    May 21, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Florence Mendelbaum

    While the so called war on drugs flails, people ike Raymond Earl Knaeble IV, a 29-year-old California-born convert to Islam, has been stranded in Colombia since March after being placed on a no-fly list for unknown reasons. His ordeal, and that of other American Muslims denied re-entry to the U.S., was detailed last month by the Washington Post. (Knaeble was in Colombia to visit relatives.)

    SEE: U.S. Muslims Facing Problems in Return from Abroad (Wash. Post)

    Even after Knaeble traveled to Mexico, hoping to cross into the United States overland through that nation. He was stopped by Mexican authorities as he got off the plane and asked, "Are you Muslim?" He was then detained for 15 hours and asked many questions relating to his faith, such as how many wives he has (one) and the differences between "Sunni" and "Shia" Muslims. Knaeble said the questions he was asked were the same as those asked during many hours of FBI interrogation in Colombia.

    "It is un-American and illegal for a citizen who has not been accused of, let alone charged with any crime to be denied entry to his own country without adequate explanation or the possibility of challenging punishments applied without due process of law," said CAIR Legal Counsel Nadhira Al-Khalili, who is Knaeble's attorney. "We call on the Department of Justice to end Mr. Knaeble's forced exile and to address the disturbing issue of the other Americans who are similarly being denied re-entry to their own country."

    She noted that Knaeble was forced to fly from Mexico back to Colombia, when he could have just as easily been placed on a flight to the United States.

    May 21, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobby

      thank you for your in depth comment on THIS article.

      May 21, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOLZ

      What relevance does this have?

      May 22, 2010 at 3:25 am | Report abuse |
    • geckopelli

      Who gives a crap?

      May 22, 2010 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
  3. anonian

    Sampson said...

    Candy is dandy!

    May 21, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BOB

    I guess this guy just wanted a new car and home!

    May 21, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. blawless

    And how much coke can a pistachio hold?

    May 21, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Chris

    Actually LSD has been shown to have medical applications, it and other psychoactive dissociative drugs like psilocybin have shown to be amazing for cluster migraine sufferers, as well as in marriage therapy and other forms or psychiatric evaluation. Cocaine is used by dentists at times to topically anesthetize, although lidocaine is preferred.

    On another topic, it is time for the "Drug War" to be stopped... it has not worked, it has gone on for 40 years, and spent over a trillion of taxpayer dollars. We have to realize that to think we can stop people from importing drugs into the U.S. is truly naive and frankly causes more problems than if we were to regulate and tax them. When will our Draconian thinking cease? Hopefully in my lifetime I wiil at least see Marijuana become legal.

    May 21, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. CATom

    Souds to me like racial profiling. Just because a brown skin is bringing drugs into the country doesn't mean drugs are bad ok? It just means brown skins are bad mmmk?

    May 21, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bg

    Now some poor wall street banker won't have any coke for the weekend.

    May 21, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheDrugWarIsFAIL

      He will and so will every other American that likes cocaine.

      May 21, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JasonB

    Fererro Rocher's are SO GOOD!!!

    May 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CAzzle

    Just imagine how many times he got away with it and how many others are still doing it.

    May 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheDrugWarIsFAIL

      Enough times that millions of Americans can buy as much cocaine as they want, whenever they want.

      May 21, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. derek

    criminal are getting dumb'..dumber'...dumbest' as the world turn...lol

    May 21, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JasonB

    Why go through all the trouble of breaking the candies and putting it in if you can't close them right? Anyone who even glanced at those would tell INSTANTLY they are all deformed looking. Fererro's are like perfect spheres, and NONE of those are. You didnt even have to open them to know someone was seriously wrong.

    May 21, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bubbles

    Mercy, this is real nose candy!!! How innovative.

    May 21, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Charles Smythe

    Except for weed your american drug laws are where they should be. Just remember where the actual demand is . . . also demand for Asian cars and televisions. If you yanks are so hot make better ones . . . you are a greed based society that cannot sustain demand. Like the fall of the Roman Empire or the British . . . or the Greeks. Look how far the Greeks, inventors of democracy, have declined to this day. Imagine the Chinese in 10 years becoming the greatest greed based society of all. Frightening . . .

    May 21, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Coaster

      " If you yanks are so hot make better ones . . ." What, and deny you an outsourced job?

      May 21, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rigs

    you can have th candy just gimme the drugs lol

    May 21, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
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