Cincinnati customs agents find meth hidden in religious paintings

Customs agents thwarted smugglers’ attempts to bring methamphetamine into the United States hidden in the frames of religious paintings, authorities said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Customs officials, in a news release Wednesday, said a K-9 alerted inspectors Friday to a freight shipment mailed from Mexico and marked for a private residence in Houston. The shipment contained eight paintings of religious figures, including Jesus, Pope Francis, and the Virgin Mary, the release said.

In a photograph released by customs agents, one of the paintings also featured the late Pope John Paul II.

Officers inspected the frames of the paintings and found a space behind the backs of the paintings, which contained thin packets of white powder that tested positive for meth, CBP officials said in the release.

“Our canine partners and their handlers are some of CBP’s most valuable resources,” CBP Cleveland (A) Area Port Director Eugene Matho said. “They are often our last line of defense, and because of their skill and dedication these dangerous drugs are not on our streets.”

CBP officials estimated the meth, which weighed 9.2 pounds, would have been worth $16,720 on the street.

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