Philadelphia CBP Bags Largest Cocaine Load in 10 Years
709 pounds is Port’s 6th Largest; $22M Street Value
PHILADELPHIA — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers from the Area Port of Philadelphia recently seized the largest local cocaine load in 10 years when they discovered 709 pounds concealed inside cabinets that was shipped from Puerto Rico.
As a result of the seizure, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Newark’s Office, in Cherry Hill, N.J. initiated an investigation that is still active.
The cocaine weighed 321.64 kilograms, or a little more than 709 pounds, and had a street value of about $22 million. This is CBP’s 6th largest cocaine seizure, and 10th largest seizure of any illicit drug in the Port of Philadelphia.
While examining shipping containers at a seaport in Pennsauken, N.J., November 2, CBP officers detected an anomaly in one and transported that container to CBP’s Centralized Examination Station in Philadelphia. Officers emptied the contents of the container, and after thorough inspection, discovered false walls in numerous pieces of furniture bedroom and kitchen cabinets. The false compartments concealed 256 bricks of a white powdery substance that field tested positive for cocaine.
Additionally, CBP officers discovered a nearly 30-pound cocaine load at the same seaport November 28 concealed inside a wooden chest. That load, 13.56 kilograms with an estimated street value of about $900,000, was shipped from Puerto Rico and destined for an address in Cinnaminson, N.J.
“Customs and Border Protection knows that transnational drug trafficking organizations will take advantage of natural disasters, and in this case an island struggling to recovering from a crippling hurricane, to smuggle dangerous drugs to our nation’s mainland,” said Joseph Martella, CBP Acting Area Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “CBP officers remain ever vigilant to interdict narcotics loads, and we are pleased to have stopped this deadly poison shipment before it could hurt our communities.”
This is CBP’s largest cocaine seizure in Philadelphia since officers intercepted 864 pounds of cocaine concealed in a shipping container from the Dominican Republic March 8, 2007.
This is CBP’s second significant cocaine seizure from Puerto Rico. Officers discovered 386 pounds of cocaine that was concealed throughout the body of a pick-up truck on July 9, 2012.
More recently, CBP officers seized 363 pounds of cocaine concealed inside boxes of pumpkins and squash from Costa Rica on September 17, 2015.
“This seizure is an excellent example of how Customs and Border Protection officers leverage imaging technology to detect and intercept an immense amount of cocaine cleverly concealed in a shipment of furniture,” said Casey Owen Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore, the agency’s operational commander in the mid-Atlantic region. “Narcotics interdiction remains an enforcement priority for Customs and Border Protection, and a mission that we take very serious.”
CBP routinely conducts random inspections operations on international passengers and cargo and searches for narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, prohibited agriculture, and other illicit products.
On a typical day, CBP seizes 7,910 pounds of illicit drugs along our nation’s borders. Learn more about what CBP's accomplishes in "A Typical Day."
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.