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Who Needs a Border Wall When $77M of Cocaine is Seized at Newark Airport?

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On February 28th, the Drug Enforcement Administration, U. S. Customs and Border Protection, U. S. Coast Guard, Homeland Security Investigations, the New York Police Department and the New York State Police conducted a container inspection at the Port of New York/Newark, discovering 60 bundles that contained cocaine from Colombia. Photo Credit: U.S. Customs Control and Border Protection (CBP)

DEA, CBP, HSI, USCG, NYSP and NYPD interdicted 3,200 pounds of cocaine from shipping container

In total, approximately 3,200 pounds (approximately 1455 kilograms) of cocaine with an estimated street value of approximately $77,000,000 was seized. Photo Credit: Drug Enforcement Administration

On February 28th, the Drug Enforcement Administration, U. S. Customs and Border Protection, U. S. Coast Guard, Homeland Security Investigations, the New York Police Department and the New York State Police conducted a container inspection at the Port of New York/Newark, discovering 60 bundles that contained a white powder. The shipping container entered the US from Buenaventura, Colombia. In total, approximately 3,200 pounds (approximately 1455 kilograms) of cocaine with an estimated street value of approximately $77,000,000 was seized.

This is the second largest cocaine seizure at the Port of New York/Newark and the largest in nearly 25 years. Photo Credit: Drug Enforcement Administration

This is the second largest cocaine seizure at the Port of New York/Newark and the largest in nearly 25 years.

The drugs were discovered after authorities detected an irregularity in the pin used to close the shipping container doors, according to Special Agent Erin Mulvey with the New York division of the US Drug Enforcement Administration. “It was the pin that indicated something was off,” Mulvey told CNN.

CNN further reported that Mulvey said a legitimate shipment of dried fruit was behind the packages and that the drugs were likely loaded near a set of doors so as to be easily accessible to smugglers. The ship was headed next to Antwerp, Belgium.

The drugs were discovered after authorities detected an irregularity in the pin used to close the shipping container doors, according to Special Agent Erin Mulvey with the New York division of the US Drug Enforcement Administration. “It was the pin that indicated something was off,” Mulvey told CNN. Photo Credit: Drug Enforcement Administration

Mulvey said it was not yet clear whether the drugs were intended to remain in the US or to continue on to Europe, according to the CNN report.

In May of 1994, more than three tons of cocaine was discovered on cargo at the port, as was reported by the New York Times. CBP Agents staked out those drugs, waiting for the shipment to be broken and distributed. Three men were arrested in July of that year.

“Cocaine, New York’s nemesis of the 90s, is back, indicating traffickers’ push to build an emerging customer base of users mixing cocaine with fentanyl,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan. “This record-breaking seizure draws attention to this new threat and shows law enforcement’s collaborative efforts in seizing illicit drugs before it gets to the streets and into users’ hands.”

“This is a significant seizure; in fact, it is the largest cocaine seizure at the Port of New York/Newark since May 1994,” said CBP Director of New York Field Operations Troy Miller. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

“This is a significant seizure; in fact, it is the largest cocaine seizure at the Port of New York/Newark since May 1994,” said CBP Director of New York Field Operations Troy Miller.

“The ongoing partnership between CBP, USCG, HSI, DEA, NYPD and NYSP continues to produce results that protect the American public. This interception prevents a massive quantity of drugs from getting to the streets and in the hands of our children.”

“Transnational criminal organizations rely upon illicit networks throughout the world to supply, transport and distribute cocaine and other dangerous drugs,” said HSI Newark Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael. “HSI’s Border Enforcement Security Task Force in Newark, comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement working together, strengthened by HSI’s international partnerships and DHS’s combined assets, play a critical role in disrupting the worldwide cocaine chain.”

“Successes such as this seizure are a testament to the importance of our partnerships and our ability to work together to keep our ports and our communities safe,” said Capt. Jason Tama, Captain of the Port of New York and New Jersey, and commander Sector New York.

“The dedication of law enforcement has once again resulted in a massive seizure of deadly drugs,” said NYSP Acting Superintendent Keith M. Corlett. “I applaud our partners for the hard work that kept this dangerous substance from our streets. Not only did this interception save lives, but it also put an end to the violence often associated with drugs and drug trafficking. This is a crime we will not tolerate, and one we will continue to fight with our partners in law enforcement.”

“The proliferation of illegal drugs in New York City will never be tolerated, neither by law enforcement nor by the people we serve,” said NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “The NYPD and its law enforcement partners remain committed to identifying and stopping all illegal narcotics by attacking their distribution networks on every level. Through significant seizures such as this, we will continue to make every neighborhood in our nation’s safest large city even safer.”

CBP officers seized the illicit drugs and turned them over to agents from Homeland Security Investigations. No arrests have been made, and the investigation will continue.

CBP routinely works with its partner federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to intercept dangerous drugs before they can reach our communities. It deploys the government’s largest law enforcement work force, including air and marine assets, to protect citizens at and between ports of entry.

In an effort to mitigate vulnerabilities within the commerce stream that threaten the nation’s consumers and to protect national security, Homeland Security officials recently launched its Global Trade Task Force, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations-led multi-agency effort that leverages robust import and export controls and investigative authorities to combat illicit commercial activities. Authorities announced results from a recent task force effort Monday at Detroit’s Fort Street Cargo Facility.

The new task force combines the investigative, interdiction, regulatory and licensing capabilities from a variety of agencies, including HSI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security and the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations.

The GTTF’s primary mission is to counter the following types of illicit commercial activities:

  • Health & Safety: Trafficking of counterfeit, substandard, or tainted merchandise, with an emphasis on goods that pose a threat to public health or safety, including pharmaceuticals and cosmeceuticals, automotive, aerospace, rail, and heavy industry products; and environmental crimes.
  • Trade Crime: Financially-motivated fraud schemes that deprive revenue from the United States Government or which harm businesses, rights holders, or undermine financial institutions.
  • Counter-Proliferation: Illegal export of U.S. military products, sensitive dual-use technology, weapons of mass destruction, or chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials.

Several days ago, Fox News reported about the proliferation of cocaine in local communities. According to the report, Henry Marrero-Rodriguez, 47, was arrested and charged with risk of injury to a minor and possession of narcotics/controlled substance. Rodriguez had dropped a bag of drugs inside a Connecticut Subway store, and according to police a 7-year-old boy found it and picked it up.

The initial incident, when Rodriguez dropped the drugs, took place on November 22, 2017 at the Subway in East Haven, as was reported by the local Fox News affiliate. The police were notified by the store manager when a customer reported that her seven year old son found a bag containing seven smaller baggies filled with white powder.

The child picked up the bag he discovered in the chip display, according to the Fox News report.

“Unaware of the potential dangers it could have posed, the child began handling the bag of narcotics briefly before turning it over to his mother,” police said in a news release.

Authorities discovered the powder was cocaine and Fentanyl.

Fox reported that police reviewed surveillance video that showed a man, later identified as Marrero-Rodriguez, entering the sandwich restaurant about 30 minutes before the child discovered the drugs. Marrero-Rodriguez is seen on video rummaging through his pocket to grab his cellphone when the bag of drugs falls out and into the chip display.

Marrero-Rodriguez and a woman leave the Subway, unaware the bag of drugs dropped into the chip rack.

Marrero-Rodriguez was held on $50,000 bail and appeared in front of a judge Friday. It’s unclear why it took more than a year for police to make an arrest.

The long, proud, and honorable tradition of federal drug law enforcement began in 1915 with the Bureau of Internal Revenue. In the following decades, several federal agencies had drug law enforcement responsibilities.

By the 1960s, the two agencies charged with drug law enforcement were the Bureau of Drug Abuse Control (BDAC) and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN). It was during this period that America underwent a significant change. The introduction of drugs into American culture and the efforts to “normalize” drug use started to take a terrible toll on the nation. Nevertheless, American children could still walk to school in relative safety, worrying only about report cards or the neighborhood bully.

Today however, as children approach their schools, they see barbed wire, metal detectors, and signs warning drug dealers that school property is a “drug free zone.” In too many communities, drug dealers and gunfire force decent, law-abiding citizens to seek refuge behind locked doors. In 1960, only four million Americans had ever tried drugs. Currently, that number has risen to over 121 million. Behind these statistics are the stories of countless families, communities, and individuals adversely affected by drug abuse and drug trafficking.

Since its founding in 1973 the mission of the DEA has been to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States, and bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States, or any competent jurisdiction, organizations and their principal members involved in the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances appearing, in or destined for, illicit traffic in the United States, and recommend and support non-enforcement programs aimed at reducing availability of illicit controlled substances.

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