CHICAGO (AP) - A man was arrested at O'Hare
International Airport for allegedly smuggling
opium-soaked tablecloths into the country from
Thailand, authorities said.
Michael S. James of Minneapolis was arrested April
18 with 90 of the tablecloths sealed in plastic bags
in his luggage, according to court records and
The opium was bound for the Minneapolis area, where
it would have been processed to produce more than 9
pounds of heroin worth about $5 million, police
The smuggling method was "amazingly ingenious,"
said Lt. John Cich, who leads the narcotics unit of
the Hennepin County, Minn., Sheriff's Department.
Police in Minneapolis, acting on a tip, notified
U.S. Customs agents in Chicago that James was coming
through, and a drug-sniffing dog detected the opium in
his two suitcases, officials said.
Two other men, Vong Her of St. Paul, Minn., and Fai
Yang of Eau Claire, Wis., were arrested after meeting
James at the airport. They allegedly paid James and
gave him a free plane ticket to fly overseas and go
back to Minneapolis with the tablecloths, according to
James, who was ordered to undergo a mental
competency evaluation, told authorities he was to be
paid $10,000 and knew his suitcases contained
drug-soaked tablecloths. All three men were charged
last week with importing drugs.
James and Her remained in custody Friday while Yang
was freed on a $250,000 bond.