12 pounds of pot seized at airport

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA - December 16, 2008 - Now federal lawmen want to know a lot more about who sent it, and to whom it was being sent.

They were shipped inside what appeared to be African artwork: Masks often used in African culture to celebrate a recent harvest.

Except that the shippers of these masks coming in through Europe apparently had a different kind of harvest in mind.

"Once we detected something inside, then we drilled a hole into it and we extracted a green, leafy substance that tested positive for marijuana," said Steve Sapp with U.S. Customers and Border Protection.

Federal officers found 12 pounds of marijuana hidden in five tightly-wound bundles inside the African artifacts.

Finding drugs that criminals try to sneak into the country is an ongoing fight. In addition to items passengers may be bringing from outside the U.S., federal officers are charged with examining thousands of pieces of cargo coming in from overseas through FedEx and UPS.

Recently, they came upon two Coke cans on a flight to Jamaica that had a different kind of coke inside... The white, powdery kind. On another flight they found food carts loaded with coffee, tea, marijuana and cocaine.

Several times now, officers have intercepted several shipments of khat, a leafy narcotic plant typically found in East Africa and popular among some drug users.

"It's sort of like a hallucinogenic plant and it only has a shelf life of maybe 48 hours," Sapp said.

Officers have also recently intercepted almost $200,000 in fake bank checks and money orders, shipments of GBL (a precursor chemical used to make the "date rape drug") and a wide assortment of steroids.

"So, we found some really good things in the last six months or so, so our officers are doing a really hard job everyday to detect these narcotics," said Sapp.

Customers and border protection officers at Philadelphia International are ranked sixth nationally in their effectiveness to weed out all sorts of illegal stuff.

So, people should think twice before shipping such stuff here.

Click here to get the latest Philadelphia news and headlines from across the Delaware and Lehigh valleys.

Copyright © 2024 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.