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Rafael Quinonez Jimenez Arrested At Orlando Airport For Smuggling Heroin Lollipops

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By Jane Sutton

MIAMI, March 6 (Reuters) - U.S. Customs inspectors seized 172 lollipops with heroin hidden in their centers from a jittery smuggler at Orlando airport in Florida, the agency said on Tuesday.

Rafael Quinonez Jimenez, a 45-year-old Guatemalan, arrived on a flight from Central America on Friday and appeared "very nervous and was sweating profusely" as he passed through customs with his luggage, the arrest affidavit said.

Agents searched his duffel bag and found 3.2 kilograms of heroin, or a little over 7 pounds, disguised as candy lollipops.

"When one took off the outside wrapper, there was a thin layer of candy shell covering a ball of condensed heroin powder," Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent John Huang wrote in the affidavit.

Quinonez was arrested on charge of possessing heroin with intent to distribute and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

He had flown to Orlando from Guatemala City, Guatemala. He told investigators that a man he met at a gas station near his home had given him an airline ticket, a hotel reservation and $500 to carry the bag of candy to Florida, and told him he would be given delivery instructions after landing in Orlando.

The Customs inspector said he doubted the story, since Quinonez was carrying $1,500 in cash and his demeanor suggested that he knew he was carrying contraband. (Reporting by Jane Sutton; Editing by Anthony Boadle)

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