700 Pounds of Cocaine Seized from Philadelphia Port

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More than 700 pounds of cocaine have been seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection from the Area Port of Philadelphia, multiple news outlets report.

The seizure, which occurred in November, accounts for the largest such confiscation in nearly 10 years. An article on the ABC 6 News website says the cocaine had a street value of nearly $22 million dollars.

Officers first encountered an abnormality in a cargo carrier containing bedroom furniture and kitchen cabinets during an examination at a seaport in Pennsauken, N.J., on November 2. After observing the irregularity on imaging technology, the container was shipped to the Border Protection’s Centralized Examination Station in Philadelphia. When officers opened the container, they discovered fake walls had been constructed to create false compartments in the cargo. These compartments were built specifically to hide illegal drugs. A total of 256 bricks of a white powdery substance were found in the walls. The substance would later field test positive for cocaine.

According to ABC 6 News, the drugs found in the ship’s cargo containers were shipped from Puerto Rico. Joseph Martella, the acting director for the Area Port of Philadelphia, told the station that criminals will often “take advantage of natural disasters,” using them as an opportunity to smuggle illicit drugs in the same containers that ship otherwise legitimate cargo.

Customs and Border Protection officers routinely monitor and screen incoming goods for drugs, weapons and other illegal products. Many times, the trafficking of illicit items into the United States mainland are preemptively halted by the Custom and Border Protection’s use of modern technology, including imagining resources.

Casey Owen Durst, the operational commander for the Custom and Border Protection’s mid-Atlantic region, told the PhillyVoice that the seizure is an “excellent example” of how Customs and Border Protection officers use image technology to track illegal products being transported into the United States through incoming shipments.