A food courier arriving at JFK Airport from Mexico was busted with a $60,000 stash of fentanyl “capable of causing considerable overdoses” that he’d bizarrely hidden inside three candles, customs officials said Wednesday.
Eulalio Gomez-Zuniga, a US citizen, arrived on a flight from Mexico City on Sunday and had his belongings inspected by Customs and Borders Protection agriculture specialists, officials said.
The specialists were X-raying his bags when they made an unexpected find – three cylindrical objects that appeared to have “anomalies” in their center, authorities said.
They ultimately determined that the items were candles and inserted a probe into one of them, assisted by customs officers, according to the feds.
Once removed, the probe was covered with white powder – which later tested positive for fentanyl, authorities said.
In total, about 2.5 pounds of fentanyl were seized, with an estimated street value of $60,000.
In photos released by the agency, one of the black candles has a label reading, “Muerte Negra,” Spanish for “Black Death.”
Gomez-Zuniga was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was turned over to NYPD, officials said.
“Fentanyl poses a significant threat to our nation, as it is oftentimes added to other substances that can have deadly consequences,” Francis J. Russo, Director of CBP’s New York Field Operations, said in a statement.
“The fentanyl seized was 73% pure, and capable of causing considerable overdoses in our community,” Russo added. “As America’s unified border security agency, our employees are determined to protect the public from fentanyl entering our neighborhoods and destroying our communities.”
Gomez-Zuniga faces state narcotics smuggling charges and will undergo state prosecution, authorities said.