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8 charged for allegedly smuggling cocaine hidden in canned food through Atlanta airport

Investigators say they documented more than 90 separate trips for the group.

ATLANTA — Eight people face federal charges for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine into the United States through several airports - including right here in Atlanta. 

The US Attorney's Office in Atlanta charged Anthony Rondel Blair, Jason Arias, Daniel Newton, David Lomba Barros, Angelica Dominique Cuyugan Tuzon, Shondra Vernon, Michelle Rosa and Madison Renee Kelleher in connection to the scheme.

According to prosecutors, the crew imported dozens of kilos of cocaine hidden inside of canned food through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, as well as airports in Charlotte, Miami and Raleigh. 

Prosecutors said Anthony Blair organized the group to fly to Costa Rica from Atlanta. While there, Jason Arias met with some of the crew to provide them with the drugs to hide in their checked luggage. After they returned, prosecutors say the alleged smugglers turned over the drugs to Blair, who then prepped the cocaine for distribution throughout Atlanta, Charlotte, Boston and beyond.

Investigators say they documented more than 90 separate trips for the group, which they say brought more than 375 kilos of cocaine into the United States. Investigators were able to disrupt those trafficking efforts, however. 

“We will not allow our airport to be used as a hub for the spread of illegal narcotics to our communities,” said Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields. “I commend our officers for their efforts on the ground, and to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for aggressively pursuing these cases.”

This is not the first time a drug operation has been disrupted at Atlanta's airport. Authorities have confiscated cocaine in figurines, more than 200 pounds of marijuana and heroin hidden inside bags of coffee. 

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