Peruvian Plaques

Traveler charged at IAH after coke found in hand painted plaques

By Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter
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Houston - A nervous traveler, changing stories and hand painted Peruvian plaques helped federal agents find more than 4 kilos of cocaine, according to documents filed in Houston federal court.

Federal court documents read when Giovanni Quiroz landed at Bush Intercontinental Airport last Thursday, Customs agents asked him a few basic questions while standing near the luggage belt. Agents write Qurioz initially told them he was returning from visiting friends in Peru before heading on to New Jersey. Agents write Quiroz told them he was unemployed and paid for his more than $1,000 ticket with "disability".

Suspicious of his story agents examined his luggage more closely. Agents write an X-Ray machine didn't reveal anything suspicious, but agents noted Quiroz seemed "to be in a rush to leave" and told agents he had a "flight to catch".

Agents then decided to take an even closer look at the man's suitcase and discovered 18 hand painted plaques. Agents wrote Quiroz kept changing his story as to who he got the plaques from, who he was visiting and who he was supposed to meet in New Jersey. During this back-and-forth agents wrote they noticed a white powder on one of the plaques.

Agents wrote the powder tested positive for cocaine. At this point agents stated Quiroz changed his demeanor by "keeping his head down" and asking "Am I in trouble?" Agents wrote they found a total of 4.73 kilos of cocaine in 18 plaques.

Agents then charged Quiroz with possession with intent to distribute and also noted the man who said he was unemployed had flown to Peru 16 times since 2004.

I have attached the criminal complaint, with pictures of the plaques, for you to read.

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