From City News Service:
LOS ANGELES — Two Arkansas men were arrested at Los Angeles International Airport after U.S. Customs agents found about 20 pounds of ropes and cords allegedly saturated in cocaine in their luggage, officials said Wednesday.
Jonathan Cottrell, 21, and Leanthony Henderson, 20, had arrived from Panama City, Panama, on March 15, bringing seven ropes and about 40 canvas backpacks with attached cords. The ropes and backpacks appeared to be commercially packed, according to Lee Harty of U.S Customs and Border Protection.
The men said they had bought the items at a swap meet, and one said he was bringing the ropes to tie up his fishing boat. The canvas backpacks with attached cords belonged to the other passenger, said Harty.
CBP officers noticed the backpack cords were stiff and had irregular tension and also emitted a chemical odor. Initial testing indicated the ropes and cords had been saturated with cocaine, Harty said.
“This is another prime example of our astute CBP officers continuous discovery of clever concealment methods,” said Carlos Martel, acting director of the CBP’s Los Angeles office.
Cottrell and Henderson both pleaded not guilty in Superior Court to a felony charge of transportation for sale of a controlled substance, prosecutors said, and bail was set at $300,000 for each defendant.
A preliminary hearing is expected to be set March 25 at the Airport Courthouse.