SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- An American singer suspected of trying smuggle cocaine in his stomach was detained as he tried to board a U.S.-bound flight at a Dominican airport, authorities said Tuesday.
Ramon Alcides Rodriguez, spokesman of the country's drug control agency, said that New York-born bachata singer Jimmy Bauer became sick at Santo Domingo's international airport on Monday when a couple of pellets of cocaine he had swallowed apparently burst.
Bauer, whose real name is Jaime Vargas, was trying to board a flight to the United States when customs and drug authorities stopped him for "strange behavior" and an X-ray examination of his abdomen allegedly showed dozens of pellets in his stomach, Rodriguez said.
Dominican authorities rushed Bauer to a nearby hospital, where 88 pellets of cocaine were allegedly extracted from his stomach. Two others had burst, Alcides asserted.
Bauer's medical status wasn't immediately available. He being guarded by three officers of the drug agency.
The New York resident of Dominican heritage is a minor figure in bachata, a musical genre that originated in the Caribbean nation's countryside and is recognizable for its slow, sensual sound marked by bongos, maracas and the pluck of guitars.
It was not clear if Bauer, who was part of a merengue group in Puerto Rico before focusing on bachata in 2005, had a lawyer. His hometown was not immediately available.
The Dominican Republic is a major transit point for drugs bound for the United States.