Dog sniffs out cocaine hidden in wheelchair at Milan airport

ROME (AP) — A drug-sniffing dog led frontier police Friday at a Milan airport to some 13 kilograms (nearly 30 pounds) of cocaine stuffed into the leather upholstery of a motorized wheelchair, whose user immediately stood up and was arrested, authorities said.

The specialized canine unit was being deployed at Malpensa airport to check arriving passengers and their luggage from a flight from the Dominican Republic, since previously drug couriers had used that route, the Financial Guard police said in a statement.

When a dog drew officers’ attention to the traveler, police first checked his luggage, which yielded nothing, then slashed the wheelchair’s upholstery, discovering the cocaine.

Police said that when the cocaine was found, the chair user — a Spaniard who had requested airport personnel to help guide the wheelchair — got up, walked without assistance and was taken into custody.

The passenger was brought to a local jail, where judicial authorities upheld his detention pending investigation of the case, the statement said.

Police said the 11 packets of cocaine, weighing a total of 13.35 kilograms (nearly 30 pounds) could have yielded some 27,000 individual doses of the drug and had a street sale value of some 1.4 million euros (dollars).

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