The Minnesota women arriving at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on a flight from Southeast Asia Tuesday were arrested after customs officials seized nearly 70 pounds of opium from them.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said the women arrived at about 4:20 p.m. on a flight from Laos, via Japan. Officers found 470 pounds of opium concealed in bags of tea leaves and packed inside the women’s luggage.
Chicago police said the drugs are worth more than $3 million.
Police arrested the women, identified as 57-year-old Pa Yang and 58-year-old Mai Vue Vang of St. Paul, Minnesota, and 52-year-old True Thao of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. They're each charged with manufacturing or delivery of narcotics.
All three are being held in Cook County Jail on $50,000 bonds, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. They are scheduled to appear in court on June 2.
“Today is a great example of how the officers of U.S. Customs and Border Protection work daily to stop the illegal drug flow into the United States,” Matthew Davies, Chicago Area Port Director for CBP, said in the statement.
“Even though these would-be smugglers are trying new concealment methods each and every day, I just want to remind them that if they try to get through Chicago, we will catch them!”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.