Woman Arrested for Disguising 10 Pounds of Heroin as Cooked Chicken

More than 3,700 pounds of heroin has been confiscated at US ports of entry this year, but it doesn't usually look like a juicy bird.
Photo via Flickr user Brian Noe

According to the TSA’s Security Screening guidelines, air travelers are allowed to take cooked meat, seafood, and vegetables onto a flight with them, in either their carry-on or checked baggage. A cooked rotisserie-style chicken, for example, is fine. Ten pounds of heroin that has been basted and marinated to look like a cooked rotisserie-style chicken is not.

A 61-year-old New Jersey woman was arrested on Sunday after bringing that very thing with her on a flight from Mexico City to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Emma Soriano made a clever-ish attempt to disguise the four packages of heroin as chicken, maybe in the hopes that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents would just think that she was really into the Paleo diet.


“Our CBP officers and agriculture specialists experience and vigilance was a key component in this significant narcotic seizure,” Frank Russo, the Acting Director of CBP’s New York Field Office, said in a statement.

The heroin had an estimated street value of $300,000. Soriano was arrested and is facing federal charges of smuggling narcotics. The case has been turned over to the Department of Homeland Security. The CBP said that it has confiscated more than 3,700 pounds of heroin at US ports of entry so far this year, although Soriano’s packages might be the only ones that looked like they came with a complimentary side of mashed potatoes.

If there’s a Smuggling 101 course, then part of that curriculum involves convincing would-be mules that it’s a good idea to try to disguise drugs as food, or to hide them in existing food packaging. Our roundup of a dozen-ish failed attempts probably needs an update, and Soriano’s “chicken” would join the two kilos of methamphetamine that were encased in chocolate bars or the 150,000 heroin packets that were hidden in bags of ground coffee.

For the record, TSA doesn’t allow any drugs onboard any flights, regardless of how delicious you make them look.