PHILADELPHIA —  An investigation is underway after 709 pounds (321.64 kilograms) of cocaine were found in containers of furniture and cabinetry shipped from Puerto Rico. The Nov. 2 seizure by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers from the Area Port of Philadelphia has a street value of approximately $22 million.

According to information released Jan. 8, CBP officers were examining shipping containers when they "detected an anomaly in one and transported that container to CBP’s Centralized Examination Station in Philadelphia." There, officers discovered false walls in numerous pieces of bedroom furniture and kitchen cabinets which concealed 256 bricks of cocaine.

Photo courtesy of CBP

“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.”

On Nov. 28, CBP port officials intercepted a furniture shipment also from Puerto Rico and destined for an address in Cinnaminson, N.J. Hidden inside a wooden chest was nearly 30 pounds of cocaine, with a street value of $900,000.

“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.”


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