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US$1.8m cocaine hidden in flower shipment seized at San Juan airport

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Puerto Rico's San Juan airport have swooped on 161 pounds of cocaine from Colombia hidden inside several boxes manifested as containing flowers

12 March 2020 - 19:00

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Puerto Rico's San Juan airport have swooped on 161 pounds of cocaine from Colombia hidden inside several boxes manifested as containing flowers. The haul has a street value of US$1.8 million.

The drugs were discovered by a CBP Contraband Enforcement Team using specially trained dogs. Homeland Security Investigations agents immediately took custody of the packages for investigation.



CBP said the drugs arrived on board a cargo aircraft flight that originated in Bogota, reported New York's FreightWaves.



A CBP spokesman in San Juan told American Shipper this is the third illicit drug shipment of similar size to arrive in flower boxes at the airport during the past year. He added this latest seizure was discovered on a cargo flight that stopped in San Juan for fuel.



'Transnational criminal organisations select diverse routes within the supply chain to introduce narcotics,' CBP's assistant director of field operations Roberto Vaquero said in a statement. 'Businesses and companies within the supply chain must reinforce their security systems to avoid such inconveniences.'



Freight forwarders remain at the forefront of air cargo security. 'Of course, much of the focus has been on keeping improvised explosives and undeclared hazardous material out of boxes, but illegal drugs are always a concern due to demand for them,' Airforwarders Association executive director Brandon Fried was quoted as saying.



'If someone with boxes simply appears on the dock and wants to ship with no prior business history or relationship with the forwarder, that individual should be treated with some initial caution and vetting. This analysis should include credit checking, a business legitimacy review and in the case of air cargo, adherence to the Known Shipper Programme requirements, as well as the physical screening of the cargo itself,' he said.



'Forwarders should immediately contact local law enforcement authorities if they detect strange behaviour or encounter suspicious packages.'


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