A man was arrested Saturday at Mineta San Jose International Airport in an attempt to smuggle three pounds of cocaine inside raw meat in his checked baggage before a flight to Seattle, according to the Transportation Security Administration. At about 6:20 a.m. Saturday, a surveillance machine used by the TSA to detect explosive devices inside checked luggage at the airport sounded its alarm when it could not identify something inside a piece of baggage, TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said.
When TSA agents opened the baggage to investigate, they found packs of raw meat similar to ground beef with 3 pounds of packaged cocaine concealed in them, Melendez said. The TSA, which has been monitoring checked bags for explosives since the end of 2002, contacted the San Jose Police Department to report the find, he said. “Since we are not looking for drugs, we have to notify the police department,” he said. Police came to arrest the man, who had been booked onto Alaska Airlines Flight 321 bound for Seattle, he said.
The suspect is 24-year-old Salvador Robledo-Zamaya, a resident of Turlock, California, according to police spokesman Officer Albert Morales. The TSA uses detection machines at U.S. airports to examine the contents of checked bags for explosives only, but if something illegal is discovered inadvertently, agents notify local police, according to Melendez. He said he has seen things like marijuana buried by a smuggler in a jar of peanut butter in a checked bag. But he added, “In my 13 years with TSA, this is the first time I’ve heard of something like this hidden in raw meat.”
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