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Narcotics
06/25/2019

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BEST team in Baltimore seizes 333 pounds of cocaine in container of beach chairs from China

BALTIMORE – A Border Enforcement Task Force (BEST) team in Baltimore comprised of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized 332 pounds of cocaine in the port of Baltimore June 18.

While conducting import trade enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers detected an anomaly during an x-ray scan of a container of beach chairs from China. Officers also observed that the original security seal lock was replaced with another lock. Officers discovered four large black duffel bags inside the container. The bags contained a combined 125 bricks of a white powdery substance that field-tested positive for cocaine.

The cocaine weighed about 151 kilograms, or about 333 pounds, and has a street value of about $10 million.

The container transited through Panama before arriving in Baltimore. It was destined to an address in Maryland.

No arrests have been made. HSI Baltimore has initiated an investigation.

“Because of the unique authorities and interagency expertise unified through BEST, HSI agents and CBP officers were able to quickly identify and interdict this significant amount of illicit narcotics,” said Cardell T. Morant, HSI Baltimore acting special agent in charge. “We will continue to disrupt any attempt to traffic illicit narcotics that pose a threat to our communities’ physical and economic health.”

“This seizure illustrates the complexities of Customs and Border Protection’s multi-faceted missions, from ensuring that imported goods comply with U.S. trade regulations to interdicting dangerous drugs that harm our communities,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Director of Field Operations in Baltimore. “CBP officers remain vigilant at our nation’s ports of entry to significantly impact transnational criminal organizations that push dangerously unsafe consumer goods or dangerous drugs.”

CBP officers screen international travelers and cargoes and search for illicit narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, counterfeit consumer goods, prohibited agriculture, and other illicit products that could potentially harm the American public, U.S. businesses, and our nation’s safety and economic vitality.

The primary mission of BEST is to combat emerging and existing Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO) by employing the full range of federal, state, local, tribal and international law enforcement authorities and resources in the fight to identify, investigate, disrupt and dismantle these organizations at every level of operation.

BEST special agents and task force officers investigate a wide range of criminal activity with a nexus to our land and sea borders, to include drug trafficking, arms trafficking, human trafficking and smuggling, gangs, money laundering and bulk cash smuggling, child exploitation, maritime smuggling, illicit tunnels and commercial fraud.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 06/25/2019