An alleged drug smuggler was busted at JFK Airport Friday for allegedly trying to illegally import cocaine hidden in bags of jumbo shrimp, federal prosecutors announced Saturday.
Zacharie Scott, 22, a U.S. citizen residing in Guyana, was caught with the drug-laden shrimp bundles in his bags upon departing an American Airlines flight that arrived at Kennedy Airport from the South American nation on Jan. 19.
Federal authorities said Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at JFK selected Scott for secondary inspection and went through his luggage, where they found what, at first, appeared to be two containers of jumbo shrimp.
Upon further inspection, authorities said, the inspectors found concealed within the shrimp bundles numerous bricks of powder later revealed to be cocaine. The packages weighed 18.45 kilograms in total, and have an estimated street value of between $239,850 and $479,700.
During questioning, law enforcement sources said, Scott allegedly admitted to knowing it is wrong to smuggle cocaine into the U.S., but claimed he did it anyway for an expected payment from an unidentified individual of up to $6,000.
Members of the Department of Homeland Security arrested Scott on charges of unlawful importation of a controlled substance — a charge that carries with it a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in a federal penitentiary.
According to sources with the U.S. Attorney’s Eastern District of New York office, Scott was arraigned in Brooklyn federal court on Jan. 20 before Magistrate Judge Joseph Marutollo, who ordered him held pending a bail hearing scheduled for Jan. 23.