April 2, 2020  Last Update: November 12, 2019, 4:01 pm

Man Arrested Trying to Smuggle Heroin Lollipops Through Orlando International Airport

Rafael Quinonez Jimenez was arrested after trying to smuggle over 3.2 kilos of heroin inside of lollipops, through Orlando International airport. Image shows heroin lollipos from earlier New York heroin discovery. The DEA reminds us that Jimenez is innocent until proven guilty.

On Friday, March 2nd, a 45-year old man named Rafael Eduardo Quinonez Jimenez was arrested at Orlando International Airport after customs officials discovered 172 lollipops that each secretly contained 18.8 grams of heroin. In total, the man was attempting to smuggle 2.3 kilograms of hard drugs into the United States.

Drug traffickers are certainly trying to get more creative nowadays when it comes to disguising narcotics. Jimenez’ attempt to disguise the drugs as candy brings back memories of Steven Soderbergh’s Oscar-winning film Traffic, in which Catherine Zeta-Jones’ character brings a drug cartel member a doll made of “high-impact, pressure-molded cocaine.”

Quinonez Jimenez was busted upon arriving from San Salvador, El Salvador. He got off his TACA Airlines flight and headed to customs, where customs agents noticed the following odd behavior:

"Quinonez Jimenez appeared ’very nervous and was sweating profusely’ and referred him to a secondary check. That’s when officials discovered 172 lollipops packed inside a duffel bag. Each ’lollipop’ containted18.8 grams of heroin, totaling 3.2 kilograms of the illegal drug, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court."
- Orlando Sentinel

According to the Sentinel, this drug mule denied knowing anything else. He claimed he was only given the drugs, a  plane ticket, hotel information, and $500.

Unfortunately for this middle-man, he’s currently being held without bail at the Seminole County Jail. Meanwhile, the higher-level drug runners have likely already found another low-level runner to do their dirty work, thus continuing the cycle in the never-ending war on drugs.

This isn’t the first time lollipos have been used to smuggle heroin:

2004: The DEA Northeast Laboratory (New York, New York) recently received a submission of thirty one lollipops with loose wrappers, suspected to contain heroin. The exhibits were seized at LaGuardia airport by the DEA New York Field Division (circumstances not provided). The wrappers indicated only the flavor of the candy (peach, watermelon, sour, etc.) The pops varied from 3/4’s of an inch to one inch in diameter, and (unusually) consisted of a candy shell surrounding a powder interior. Analysis of the powder (total net mass 520.1 grams) by GC/FID, GC/MS and FTIR confirmed 64 percent heroin hydrochloride. This is the first submission of lollipops containing heroin powder to the laboratory; however, the laboratory has previously received lollipops containing cocaine hydrochloride.



Press Release from Justice.gov Florida DA office:
Three Kilograms Of Heroin Seized At Orlando International Airport
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 6 , 2012 Orlando, Florida – United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill announces the arrest of Rafael Eduardo Quinonez Jimenez (45, Guatemala) on a criminal complaint, charging him with possession with the intent to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin. If convicted, Quinonez Jimenez faces a minimum penalty of ten years, up to life in federal prison.

On March 2, 2012, Quinonez Jimenez arrived at the Orlando International Airport from a flight originating in Guatemala City, Guatemala. According to the criminal complaint, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers were conducting a secondary inspection when officers discovered numerous bags of what appeared to be candy. The packages contained 172 lollipops located within Quinonez Jimenez’s luggage. The lollipops had a candy shell. Beneath each candy shell was a large ball of heroin. The total heroin contained in the 172 lollipops was approximately 3,233 grams (3.2 kilograms).

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher LaForgia.

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