DEA Buffalo Seizes Approximately 140 Pounds Marijuana and Recovers Human Organ Tissue for Transplant
MAR 2 - Special Agent in Charge Anthony P. Placido announced today the arrest of two individuals trafficking marijuana in the Buffalo region of New York, the seizure of approximately 140 pounds of marijuana and the recovery of human organ tissue for transplant destined for Buffalo General Hospital and Hamilton Hospital, Hamilton Ontario. The alleged defendants inadvertently took possession of the organ transplant tissue boxes during their attempt to retrieve boxes containing marijuana.
SAC Placido stated:”This case demonstrates another negative consequence affecting the general public and innocent bystanders as a result of marijuana trafficking. Agents of the Buffalo District Office and members of the Niagara Frontier Transit Police Department are commended for their diligent efforts, aggressive investigating and expeditious return of the human organ tissues to proper medical authorities.”
On February 23, 2004, at approximately 5:30 p.m., the DEA Buffalo Resident Office received a telephone call from a Niagara Frontier Transit Police Department Detective regarding the seizure of approximately 140 pounds of marijuana at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
Special Agents responded to The Buffalo Niagara International Airport and through coordination with the Niagara Frontier Transit Police Department learned that a female had mistakenly taken two packages at the Airport, which had been shipped from Atlanta by Cryolife Inc. via Delta Airlines. These packages contained two human organs. One contained a pulmonary valve packaged at a temperature of minus 275 degrees Fahrenheit in order to keep the tissue alive for immediate transplant in Ontario, Canada. The other package contained a saphenous vein, packaged in the same manner, en route to the Buffalo General Hospital. Both of these organs are valued at $10,000.00 each, according to Hospital authorities. Agents established a liaison with hospital officials and learned that the heart valve was needed for an emergency transplant surgery for a teenager or young adult. The vein was intended for a coronary bypass graft surgery.
The unknown female took possession of these packages at approximately 11:30 a.m. and the only information that she provided to the Delta Ticket counter was her false identification as Tabatha CAMPBELL. This unknown female had a phony tag on her shirt identifying her as an employee at Dual Printing in Buffalo, NY.
The two packages that CAMPBELL was supposed to pick up from the Delta Ticket Counter contained approximately 140 pounds of marijuana. The packages were to be picked up by Dual Printing at the Delta Airlines ticket counter. Agents contacted the owner of Dual Printing and learned that there were no females working for the company that fit the description of CAMPBELL
DEA Agents and NFTPD Detectives immediately established surveillance, ran exhaustive computer checks and interviewed confidential sources in the area to identify this female.
At approximately 8:30 p.m., the Agents learned that a call had been received at the airport inquiring about the current location of the unclaimed packages of marijuana. This unknown male asked the attendant if the packages could still be picked up. The Agents and NFTA Officers continued their surveillance in the Airport in an effort to observe anyone to come accept the packages. Another call was received at approximately 11:30 p.m. The caller stated that someone was attempting to pick up the packages and needed assistance at Delta Counter to help them.
At approximately 12:00 a.m., a female approached the Delta Ticket Counter with the two packages containing the aforementioned human organs. The female was arrested by the Agents nearby the counter after swapping the organs for the marijuana. The female was a Canadian citizen identified as Tabatha BRACKEN (DOB-04-26-76). Other Agents observed Dalvan ROBINSON (DOB 06-22-61) a Jamaican national of Lockport, NY, attempting to flee the area and placed him in custody. Upon recovery, the agents were scrubbed for surgery and surrendered custody of the organs to surgeons in order to preserve the packaging for evidentiary use in the pending criminal case.
The defendants are scheduled for arraignment this afternoon in the Western District of New York
The investigation continues.