WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A New York man was taken into custody last week after Customs and Border Protection agents at T.F. Green International Airport found more than 13 kilograms of cocaine inside his carry-on bag, according to U.S. Attorney Zachary Cunha.
Richard Pineda Novas, 46, had just disembarked a direct flight from the Dominican Republic Thursday in a wheelchair when he was referred for a secondary screening.
Cunha said agents requested the secondary screening upon learning that Pineda Novas may be connected to someone who had been caught trying to import cocaine at John F. Kennedy International Airport two years prior. That suspect, according to Cunha, hid nearly 15 kilograms of cocaine inside his wheelchair.
The agents searched a carry-on bag found near Pineda Novas upon his arrival at T.F. Green and found 12 rectangular brick-like packages wrapped in plastic and tape. Cunha said the packages were closely inspected by agents during the secondary screening and determined to be cocaine.
Pineda Novas initially claimed the carry-on bag didn’t belong to him, adding that the agents gave him someone else’s belongings. Cunha said agents eventually traced it back to Pineda Novas through a paycheck found in the bag. The paycheck was in Pineda Nova’s name and was found tucked between the pages of a bible.
He’s facing several charges, including possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.