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Framed At The Airport: Queens Man Gets Shock Of His Life At JFK

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Let's say you're flying back from another country, but before you depart someone stashes drugs in your luggage.

It happened to a Queens man who faced federal charges until the truth came to light.

Roger Levans, 56, was targeted as an unwitting drug mule, arrested, and faced a possible 40 years in prison.

"The whole thing was a nightmare. It was a nightmare," Levans told CBS 2's John Slattery on Thursday.

He lost his job as a security guard and wondered who planted drugs in his suitcase. It happened just after Christmas last year at Kennedy Airport.

Levans had flown in from Guyana. He had in his luggage cooked rabbit and fish. What he didn't know was there were also drugs in the bag.

At Customs he saw that a lock he'd placed on his bag was missing. Officials found a package containing two bricks of cocaine.

"He asked what is this? He said, you're in for a lot of trouble," Levans said. "I said, 'Oh my God.  who could have done this, done this to me?'"

Levans said he was strip searched, and jailed until his family could put up $100,000 bail. But one thing he'd noticed was a strange ribbon had been tied on the handle of the bag.

"They had a ribbon, a colorful ribbon was tied. Wasn't mine," Levans said.

Three months later, the feds dismissed the charges.

"It was determined the luggage was broken into and drugs planted by a third party into his suitcase," said Michael Borrelli, Levans' attorney.

For anyone who goes through Customs, it's a warning. Is there a ribbon or tag that's not yours?  Levans said he'll never check luggage again.

The former passenger, who said he's been humiliated, is suing Delta Airlines for not properly protecting the luggage from intrusion.

The airline did not respond for a comment.

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