Officials: Cocaine seized at Port of Philadelphia worth $38 million

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Thursday, March 21, 2019
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Officials: Cocaine seized at Port of Philadelphia worth $38 million: Bob Brooks reports on Action News at Noon, March 21, 2019

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and partner agencies announced more details of Tuesday's cocaine seizure at the Area Port of Philadelphia at the Philadelphia Custom house Thursday morning.

CBP said this operation is its largest cocaine seizure in Philadelphia 21 years, with 1,185 pounds of cocaine retrieved at an approximate street value of $38 million.

With a large pyramid of bricks of cocaine obtained in the bust piled in front of the podium, officials said the materials were obtained from a shipping container headed to the Netherlands.

Agents said the container they were looking at came out of Guatemala then made stops in Panama, the Bahamas and finally in Philadelphia.

Based on their historical data, and the area where it left from and went through being considered a "high-risk area," the container was searched by a K-9 unit on Tuesday and the drugs were found.

Officials said the drugs were hidden in a container filled with liquid rubber, heading to the Netherlands.

Exclusive video from Chopper 6 showed investigators swarming around cargo containers around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Officials said the discovery was made inside one of the containers offloaded from the MSC Desiree, where authorities found 13 large black duffel bags containing a combined 450 bricks of cocaine.

Agents then took the seized cocaine to a warehouse to be processed.

"Taking a half-ton of dangerous drugs out of circulation is a significant success for this collective team of federal, state and local law enforcement officers who work very hard every day to keep people safe," said Casey Durst, CBP's Director of Field Operations in Baltimore. "Customs and Border Protection remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners and to disrupting narcotics smuggling attempts at the Area Port of Philadelphia."

This is CBP's fourth largest cocaine seizure in the Area Port of Philadelphia, and the largest since a 1,945-pound cocaine seizure May 23, 1998.

This was the second large narcotics bust at the Port of Philadelphia this month.

Weeks earlier, agents recovered 600 pounds of marijuana in a shipping container thanks to a drug-sniffing K-9.