On Feb. 1, officials received a tip that “suspected drug traffickers” from Las Vegas would be flying into Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports — a lead that soon proved to be correct.
“Once the flight landed in Atlanta, officers were able to identify the luggage that was checked by the suspects,” police spokeswoman Officer Lisa Bender told the outlet.
After deplaning, Chad Ellis, 23, Jemonta Kilgore, 24, Labrinsan Culpepper, 25, and Rakeem Bland, 24, consented for Atlanta police to inspect the eight suitcases between the four of them, and a police dog soon sniffed out the illicit substance, as per Fox 5 Atlanta.
Atlanta Police spokesperson Sgt. John Chafee described the seizure to Fox 5 as among the “largest” ever found at the air hub, detailing that the drug interdiction team had learned that four men had planned to bring in the drugs in time for the Super Bowl weekend.
In addition to the 220-plus pounds of pot, officers also seized almost $8,000 in cash, as per the Journal-Constitution.
As of Feb. 7, Ellis, Kilhore, Culpepper and Bland are being held in the nearby Clayton County Jail without bond.
Officials report that the investigation is ongoing, and that charges may be updated, as per the outlet.
Meanwhile, this isn’t the first time that a major suitcase-style drug bust has been made at an airport.
In July 2018, a man was arrested for attempting to smuggle nearly 60 pounds of marijuana into Nashville International Airport using two suitcases.
In December, three Californians were arrested for attempting to smuggle 150 pounds of pot in their checked bags at Boston’s Logan airport, Fox 13 reported at the time.
Most unbelievably, in May 2017, a New York man was sentenced to 24 years in prison for smuggling over 880 pounds of weed on flights from San Francisco to Charlotte, according to Fox 8.