PHL17 Community Heroes: Customs & Border Protection Lead Historic Cocaine Bust

PHL17 along with Barb’s Harley-Davidson is setting out to honor local community heroes. This week, the Mid-Atlantic Customs & Border Protection was honored after a historic cocaine bust at the Port of Philadelphia.

A multi-agency effort led by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security Investigations seized 1,185 pounds of cocaine. It was the largest cocaine seizure in 21 years for CBP Area Port of Philadelphia.

"We have an advanced targeting unit that conducts data analysis on the information that's transmitted to us and we use that information to select containers for inspection," said Area Port Director Joseph Martella.

On March 19th, authorities inspected shipping containers on the MSC Desiree and  discovered 13 large duffel bags containing a combined 450 bricks of cocaine. The street value of the discovery is $38 million. CBP knew they were dealing with a "rip load."

“The voyage started in Guatemala. It went to Panama, then the Bahamas and then came to Philadelphia. The smugglers use legitimate shipping containers and they’ll open the containers at any point in the voyage before it hits the United States and they’ll place their contraband inside.”

Homeland Security Investigations is now investigating where it came from, who was involved and where it was headed among many other angles.

Last year, CBP seized almost 1,000 pounds of cocaine. That's nearly 200 pounds less than this single bust.

“We get to take this off the streets away from our loved ones, away from the communities that it destroys and it’s a part of our mission. Overall it's a benefit to the community and the agency as whole.”

With CBP and Homeland Security Investigations, Homeland Security Joint Task Force-East, U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard Investigative Service, Philadelphia Police Department, Delaware State Police, Pennsylvania State Police, Nether Providence Police Department, The Office of the Attorney General Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and DEA's Philadelphia Division were also involved.

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