Massachusetts Man is Second Traveler in a Week Arrested at Dulles Airport after CBP Officers Discover Illicit Narcotics Cache

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WASHINGTON DULLES, USA - 10 APRIL 2019: Washington Dulles International Airport is floodlit at dawn

STERLING, Va. – For the second time in about one week, a traveler arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport is arrested on felony drug possession charges after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers discovered a cache of illicit narcotics in his baggage.

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police officers arrested Joseph Claudio De Paula, a 50-year-old U.S. citizen from Vineyard Haven, Mass., on Sunday afternoon.

De Paula arrived on a flight from Sao Paulo, Brazil shortly after 8 a.m., and a CBP officer referred De Paula to a secondary examination. During that examination, officers discovered 29 tablets of Morphine, 28 tablets of Codeine, 14 tablets of Bromazepam, nine tablets of Alprazolam, over 60 tablets of Tadalafil, one vial of steroids, and a small vial with cocaine residue concealed inside De Paula’s baggage.

Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA) Police officers responded and took custody of De Paula and the illicit narcotics. De Paula faces felony narcotics possession charges.

Criminal charges are merely allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

This is the second CBP narcotics seizure in about one week that resulted in local criminal charges. On January 15, MWAA Police officers arrested rapper Victor Kwesi Mensah, a 28-year-old U.S. citizen from Chicago, after CBP offices discovered a cache of illicit narcotics in his baggage.

Despite some states decriminalizing certain personal quantities of illicit narcotics, travelers should be aware that narcotics possession remains illegal under federal law. Additionally, travelers should know that they are subject to CBP federal inspection upon arriving and departing the United States.

“Travelers should know that narcotics interdiction remains a Customs and Border Protection enforcement priority, and that if they are packing illicit, prohibited or unapproved narcotics in their baggage that they risk facing potentially life-changing felony criminal charges,” said Daniel Escobedo, Area Port Director for CBP’s Area Port of Washington, D.C. “Best advice that CBP officers can give travelers is to know what they can and cannot bring to the United States and to sweep their baggage clean of anything that violates our nation’s laws.”

Travelers can visit CBP’s website to learn more about admissible and prohibited items.


On a typical day last year, CBP processed more than 650,000 travelers who arrived at airports, seaports and land border crossings. CBP officers and agents seized an average of 4,732 pounds of dangerous drugs every day at our nation’s ports of entry. See what else CBP accomplished during a typical day in 2021.

Please visit CBP Ports of Entry to learn more about how CBP’s Office of Field Operations secures our nation’s borders. Learn more about CBP at www.CBP.gov.

Follow the Director of CBP’s Baltimore Field Office on Twitter at @DFOBaltimore for breaking news, current events, human interest stories and photos, and CBP’s Office of Field Operations on Instagram at @cbpfieldops.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the comprehensive management, control, and protection of our nation’s borders, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection at and between official ports of entry.