CINCINNATI–-Since the beginning of fiscal year 2023, which began October 1, 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Cincinnati intercepted 33 shipments containing 326 pounds of the dangerous club drug Ketamine valued at $1.8 million.
In contrast, during the same time frame in fiscal year 2022 (October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022), Cincinnati CBP intercepted only 19 shipments containing Ketamine. These shipments were entering through the Port of Cincinnati enroute to residential addresses throughout the world, to include Australia, Spain, Canada, Mexico, and the United States. In all, during that six-month time frame, CBP officers seized 191 pounds of Ketamine, with a street value a little over $1.3 million.
Cincinnati CBP has seen a 73% increase in Ketamine shipments, a 70% increase in pounds, and a value increase of more than $500,000. Officers are finding Ketamine in liquid, and crystalized form. The concealment of Ketamine varies from hidden inside flowerpots, inside the box flaps of the boxes, mixed within beauty creams, and inside protein powders.
“The men and women at the Port of Cincinnati are committed to stopping the flow of dangerous drugs, and they continue to use their training, intuition, and strategic skills to prevent these kinds of illegitimate shipments from reaching the public,” said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Director, Field Operations, Chicago Field Office. “Our officers are focused on their mission to protect our country and stop these dangerous narcotics from reaching our citizens.”
Ketamine hydrochloride is a Schedule III non- narcotic that is regulated under the Controlled Substance Act. Ketamine is known on the streets as “Special K” with side effects that cause hallucinations, dissociative sensations, immobility, and relief from pain with temporary paralysis. Often, this drug is used by teens, and young adults at parties or clubs and also to facilitate sexual assault. Ketamine immobilizes its victims and cause them to be unconscious.
“We have noticed a rise in illegal ketamine shipments,” said Cincinnati Port Director Richard Gillespie. “Ketamine does have a legitimate use when prescribed by a licensed medical professional, but these shipments were more than likely going to be used to facilitate nefarious activities, possibly sexual assault. Our officers are trained to identify different concealment tactics that transnational criminal organizations use in attempt to smuggle drugs into the United States.”
CBP's border security mission is led at ports of entry by CBP officers from the Office of Field Operations. CBP officers screen international travelers and cargo and search for illicit narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, counterfeit consumer goods, prohibited agriculture products, and other illicit items that could potentially harm the American public, U.S. businesses, and our nation’s safety and economic vitality.
As the largest federal law enforcement agency in the United States, CBP has a vast, complex, and dynamic mission faced with constantly changing threats. By being continuously watchful and alert, CBP is dedicated to facilitating lawful trade and travel and protecting the homeland and its people.