As the city of Philadelphia readies itself for the arrival of Pope Francis, the authorities received a blessing in the form of an anonymous tip. Last Thursday, the tip led agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations and the DEA to make one of the largest cocaine busts in Philadelphia history. At the Port of Philadelphia, law enforcement seized 383 pounds (close to 174 kilos) of cocaine.
The cocaine was found in a container of pumpkins and squash loaded in flat, laminated packages on a ship named the M/V Santa Maria. The ship came to Philadelphia from Costa Rica and was destined for the Bronx in New York City. The ship was only inspected because of the anonymous tip that authorities received. They normally do not search the ships, according to Philadelphia Magazine.
“The cocaine was expertly disguised in a shipment of squash and pumpkins and because of the coordinated efforts of the law enforcement agencies you see here today, that it was found, seized and never reach the streets of our country,” said special agent in charge for homeland security investigations Philadelphia John Kelleghan. “This seizure is a unique opportunity for us to actually show the public the efforts of that daily coordination.”
Philadelphia Magazine added:
The 383 pounds were the eighth-largest cocaine seizure in the history of the Port of Philadelphia. Officials at a press conference at the Customs House in Old City declined to answer how many drug seizures are made on average in Philadelphia, nor an average weight. Customs and Border Protection said on a typical day it seizes 10,327 pounds of drugs at (and between) the 328 ports of entry into the United States.