Advertisement
Crime

New Jersey man who police say flew to BWI with 13 bricks of cocaine hidden in wheelchair is charged with felony drug counts

Customs officers at BWI Marshall Airport said they found nearly $1 million worth of cocaine in a New Jersey man’s electric wheelchair last week, leading to his arrest on felony drug offenses.

Gabriel Ruiz, 34, is being held in the Jennifer Road Detention Center following the discovery on June 20, when U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the airport said they noticed anomalies when they X-rayed the Union City man’s wheelchair.

Advertisement

Ruiz had flown to BWI from Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, and was referred for a secondary inspection when he arrived, the agency said in a news release Tuesday.

Officers said they found 13 plastic-wrapped bricks of cocaine hidden inside the seat and back cushions. Together, the bricks weighed more than 30 pounds, which officials estimated equals a street value of nearly $1 million, the release said.

Advertisement

In the release, Thomas Heffernan, the customs agency’s acting port director for Baltimore, described the hiding place as “unusual.” The agency noted that last month, customs officers found 23 pounds of cocaine in a passenger’s wheelchair as he arrived at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

The federal agency turned the cocaine over to Maryland Transportation Authority Police, who arrested Ruiz and charged him with importing a controlled substance into the state as well as other drug offenses, court records say.

At a bail hearing after Ruiz was arrested, Anne Arundel County District Judge Kemp Hammond ordered for him to be held without bond. Ruiz is being represented by the public defender’s office.


Advertisement