CALGARY - Border officials uncovered illegal drugs concealed inside the bottom of coffee carafes carried by a couple allegedly smuggling the narcotics into Calgary.
Earlier this month, Canada Border Services Agency seized seven thermal coffee pots that had been altered to hide a total of 5 kg. of black tar opium.
The seizure took place Aug. 7 when the husband and wife, travelling back to Calgary from Iran via Frankfurt, drew suspicion after their luggage passed through an X-ray machine at Calgary’s airport, CBSA and RCMP told reporters Monday.
The bottoms of the coffee carafes, which appeared to factory sealed with bubble wrap inside boxes, were removed to conceal the drugs in the walls of the pots.
Officials estimate the street value of the drugs is about $500,000.
Candace Lyle, CBSA chief of operations at the Calgary International Airport, said the seizure -- the third largest in Canada this year -- confirms their suspicion that the port of entry is a conduit for this kind of substance.
She said the officers went through a massive amount of luggage to find the contraband.
“It’s so well secreted and concealed that the officers were pretty thrilled to have stayed with it long enough to find it,” she told reporters.
Lyle pointed out that simply opening the coffee carafes would show the containers were normal household items.
RCMP Const. Scott Burge said when the items were being processed they didn’t have any suspicious odours, until they opened the bottom of the coffee containers where they found the narcotics.
“Once we’ve opened it, it was pretty obvious there was something in it,” Burge said.
He said this type of drug isn’t as prevalent as cocaine, crack or marijuana in Calgary, but its market has grown over the years.
“I don’t want to say that it’s rare but there’s a smaller market for it,” Burge said.
It’s normally packaged and sold in 3.5 gram sticks, to be smoked or chewed.
The bust is the second opium seizure at Calgary’s airport after 3 kg. were seized last year from luggage brought in from Iran.
RCMP Insp. Darcy Fleury said officials continue to investigate and it’s possible there will be more charges.
Bijan Mohammedi, 41, and Zahra Beigi, 32, each face two counts of drug-related charges and are due back in court Oct. 16.
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