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Juice Wrld suffered seizure during drug, weapons search at airport, officials say

Coachella: Day 2, and the beat goes on
Juice Wrld performs during the first weekend of Coachella.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Chicago rapper Juice Wrld suffered convulsions and went into cardiac arrest as police and federal agents were searching his and his entourage’s luggage for guns and drugs at a private hangar at Midway Airport over the weekend, according to police.

The officers and agents had been waiting at the Atlantic Aviation hangar at Midway early Sunday because they suspected the private plane from Los Angeles carrying the 21-year-old musician was carrying contraband, police said.

As they were going through two carts of luggage, the rapper — whose real name is Jarad Higgins — “began convulsing (and) going into a seizure,” police sources said. An agent administered two doses of Narcan, an emergency treatment when opioid overdose is suspected.

Higgins woke up but was incoherent, police said. Paramedics took him to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead at 3:14 a.m., about an hour after he landed in Chicago. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

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The search turned up 41 “vacuum-sealed” bags of marijuana, six bottles of prescription codeine cough syrup, two 9-millimeter pistols, a .40-caliber pistol, a high-capacity ammunition magazine and metal-piercing bullets, according to police. The two guards with Higgins were charged with illegally possessing the guns and ammunition.

No drug charges have been filed. Police said the marijuana and codeine were found in bags that had no name tags. Sources said the investigation was continuing.

It was not known why federal agents were waiting for the plane, a twin-engine Gulfstream jet owned by a company in Longwood, Fla. Logs show the plane flew from Fort Pierce, Fla., to Van Nuys on Saturday and then on to Midway, arriving there around 1:30 a.m. Higgins was scheduled to play at the Rolling Loud Festival in Los Angeles this coming Saturday.

Chicago police said they were notified while the plane was still en route to Midway that federal agents suspected it was carrying “weapons and narcotics.” Plainclothes tactical and gang crime officers joined the agents at the hangar as the plane landed and 10 passengers — including Higgins and his girlfriend — entered the lobby along with two pilots and a stewardess, police said.

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A drug-sniffing dog made a “positive alert” for bags on two luggage carts, police said. Searches uncovered the marijuana and codeine. One of the guards, Henry Dean, told police he was carrying two 9-mm pistols and a high-capacity magazine. A third gun, a .40-caliber pistol, was found in a camera case containing personal effects belonging to the other guard, Christopher Long, but he denied the gun was his.

Around this time, Higgins began having seizures, according to sources. Police asked his girlfriend if he had any medical issues or had ingested any drugs. She replied that Higgins did not have any medical conditions, but that he “takes Percocet and has a drug problem,” police said. Percocet contains acetaminophen and oxycodone, an opioid.

An ambulance was called while the Narcan was administered.

Later, Long was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. Dean was charged with carrying a concealed firearm at an airport and possessing a high-capacity magazine and metal-piercing bullets, police said. Dean had a permit to carry a gun in Illinois, but weapons are banned from airports.

The charges are misdemeanors. Police said the state’s attorney’s office rejected felony charges for the two.


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