ALBERTA

Bijan Mohammedi, Zahra Beigi Charged; Opium Allegedly Found In Coffee Carafes At Calgary Airport

08/26/2013 01:49 EDT | Updated 10/26/2013 05:12 EDT
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Coffee pot
CALGARY - A suspicious border services agent dug a little bit deeper earlier this month and discovered five kilograms of black tar opium hidden in seven coffee carafes at the Calgary International Airport.

The agent became suspicious Aug. 7 when a box containing the thermal coffee carafes was discovered during a baggage search. An X-ray revealed suspicious masses within the carafes.

"This is a pretty sophisticated concealment method. I would say this is the first for us," Candace Lyle, chief of operations for Canada Border Services Agency at the airport, said Monday.

"This was unique. Kudos to the officer that found them because the seven carafes were in boxes concealed in luggage."

Anyone opening the carafes would have found nothing. The bottoms were removed, the drugs inserted and the bottoms then rewelded to the carafe.

"The boxes themselves had a plastic wrapping around them and were all heat sealed," said RCMP Const. Scott Burge.

"When you took the carafe out, it had the bubble pop wrapping and it looked great. The carafe was even in a bag and had the little adhesive tape around it. It looked factory."

A husband and wife were returning to Calgary from Iran via Frankfurt.

Bijan Mohammedi, 41, and his 32-year-old wife Zahra Beigi have been charged with importation and possession for the purpose of trafficking under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

"I think in the widespread market for illicit drugs, it's rare," said Burge.

"There's a unique market — a unique demographic for this opium. It's not as prevalent as cocaine and crack and that sort of thing. It's definitely not in the same category."

Black tar opium isn't much different than regular opium except for its appearance, which resembles pieces of black tar. It gives off a scent similar to incense.

The opium is sold in straws weighing 3.5 grams, so five kilograms is "pretty significant," said Burge.

It's not known where the drug was headed and the case is still under investigation.

Mohammedi and Beigi are scheduled to appear in Calgary court Oct. 16.

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