Substance abuse is a lingering problem that has threatened local communities throughout Baltimore for years, and the BWI Airport has remained a hotbed for drug smugglers to attempt to push their product onto the masses. Baltimore Area Port Director Dianna Bowman is tasked with monitoring the BWI airport by the Customs and Borders Protection (CBP) agency, and she has plenty of experience with keeping Baltimore – and the nation at large – safe from numerous drug rings.
Her responsibilities were underscored on July 18th when US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officers under her command apprehended a 30-year-old Jamaican woman by the name of Trudian James at the BWI airport. Agents pulled the woman aside and closely examined her bags. An X-ray search detected an oddly shaped lump, which turned out to be a brick of a white, powdery substance that tested positive as cocaine.
In total, the packaged cocaine weighed roughly 1,3000 grams – just two ounces shy of 3 pounds. Law enforcement officials appraise the drugs as having a value of $90 thousand if they were to make their way onto the streets.
Speaking on the incident, Dianna Bowman cited a need for Customs and Border Protection officers to always “remain vigilant” when looking for drug smuggling activity from “transnational criminal organizations”. She also hopes that this arrest will send a strong message to anyone thinking about attempting to smuggle drugs into Baltimore’s communities.
Since the alleged smuggler is not a native citizen of the United States, CBP authorities placed James under parole and filed a detainer for her to remain under their authority until the investigate is fully completed.
Bowman enforces a strict Zero Tolerance policy on any illegal contraband entering or exiting the country
“Possessing narcotics, even in small amounts considered for personal use, remains illegal and travelers face severe consequences, from costly civil penalties up to, and including, possible arrest,” Bowman said.
Last May, a US citizen arriving from the Dominican Republic received a $500 citation when CPB agents found a small amount of marijuana in their belongings. Although the total amount was less than one gram, the Bronx, New York resident was fined accordingly.
On any given day, CBP confiscates over 9 thousand pounds of narcotics through 328 international entry points into the United States. In all, 2.2 million pounds of narcotics were seized for the year 2015. In addition, over $39 million in currency, two-dozen illegal firearms and over 10 thousand rounds of ammunition were taken as well.
Although firearms smuggling is less common in Baltimore airports than drugs, it has occurred twice in airports this year. In April, a Frederick woman found herself under arrest after a loaded 9 mm Luger pistol was recovered from her carry-on luggage, though it is unclear whether the pistol, which was employed by the Germans in both World War I and World War II, was still in working order. Still, functional or not, guns may only be transported if they are unloaded and officially declared.
In a separate incident on July 14th, a woman was arrested for allegedly possessing a semi-automatic handgun at the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The loaded .380 caliber pistol had 13 bullets in the chamber, according to officials at the Maryland Transportation and Security Administration. One of the officers spotted the gun at a checkpoint and promptly arrested the woman.
CBP inspects both passengers and flight crew from each and every international trip. The CBP does not conduct outbound inspections of travelers who are leaving from the United States, but they reserve the right to conduct random checks whenever they deem necessary to keep Baltimore safe.