Cleveland Charles arrived in New York (JFK) on Saturday aboard a Caribbean Airlines flight from Georgetown, Guyana, and was selected for inspection by Customs and Border Protection officers.
Sharp-eyed officers focused on a bottle of 12-year-old El Dorado rum inside Charles’ suitcase.
Charles said he had purchased it at a duty-free shop at the airport in Guyana, the Brooklyn Federal Court complaint says.
A Customs officer “then opened the bottle, which contained a thick syruplike substance with a strong odor that appeared inconsistent with rum,” Department of Homeland Security special agent Scott Salamon stated in the complaint.
A field test of the liquid came up positive for cocaine, according to Salamon.