A collection of federal agencies seized a shipping container packed with 3,200 pounds, or 1.6 tons, of cocaine at the Port of New York and Newark on February 28th.
The second-largest shipment of cocaine to be seized at the Port of New York and Newark, weighing in at 1.6 tons. (Courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
Divided into about 60 parcels and valued at $77 million, it's the largest cocaine bust in 25 years, and the second-largest ever, at this location.
The seizure was a joint effort between the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U. S. Coast Guard (USCG), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the New York Police Department (NYPD), and the New York State Police (NYSP). Authorities snared the shipping container on its way into the United States, and CBP handed off the content to HSI for further investigation. No arrests have been made at this time.
In a statement, DEA Special-Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan warned against the resurgence of "New York's nemesis of the 90's," pointing to the increasingly frequent practice of cutting cocaine with fentanyl, a hyper-potent opioid responsible for 37 percent of NYC's coke-related overdose deaths in 2016.
"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," Donovan said.
At the Port of Newark, the feds have not intercepted a coke stash of this scale since May 1994, when they seized 6,600 pounds of powder being smuggled into New Jersey and NYC in a shipment of roofing material.
The bust was announced just as President Donald Trump sought an additional $8.6 billion to build a southern border wall in his $4.75 trillion 2020 budget request. Trump insists a wall is necessary in part to stop drugs from getting into the country, but border security experts have long maintained that most illegal drugs are smuggled into the United States through legal ports of entry, like the Port of New York and Newark, which has no wall.