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Trick or Treat?? 360 lbs. of Cocaine Found Hidden in Costa Rica Pumpkin Shipment

  • Trick or Treat?? 360 lbs. of Cocaine Found Hidden in Costa Rica Pumpkin Shipment

    Trick or Treat?? 360 lbs. of Cocaine Found Hidden in Costa Rica Pumpkin Shipment

    Fall officially started on September 23rd; supermarkets, farmer’s markets and pumpkin merchants everywhere are preparing for the approaching Fall holidays with copious amounts of pumpkins and pumpkin-flavored everything. There’s even a meme circulating through social media sites about our obsession with the squash.

    As it turns out, drug dealers and manufacturers were banking on this mini-obsession to help them smuggle over 300 pounds of cocaine into the country.

    The Philadelphia Tribune reports that on September 17th- just one week shy of the beginning of Fall- Federal law enforcement officers intercepted a shipment of pumpkins as it entered the Port of Philadelphia. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers performed a thorough examination of the shipment and discovered the payload hidden in laminated packages inside the flaps of the pumpkin boxes. By the end of the inspection they recovered 384 packages of the white, powdered substance which tested positive as cocaine.

    The 363 pounds of cocaine is valued at more than $6 million on the street drug market.

    The shipping vessel, Santa Maria, was headed for a distributor in Bronx, New York. Reportedly the Philadelphia DEA office received a tip about the inbound drugs and passed the information on to the CBP officers who made the discovery. No arrest have been made in connection with the brazen yet foolish attempt at smuggling, but the investigation continues.

    Though this is the eighth largest confiscation of drugs at the Port of Philadelphia, it does beg the question: what would have happened if not for the tip to authorities? Would that shipment have ever been searched at all? If it hadn’t been intercepted the cocaine aboard that pumpkin shipment would be in the streets New York or Philadelphia, if not across the entire country.

    Thanks to the work of several dedicated Customs and Border Patrol officers, there’s less cocaine on the streets right now- but unfortunately 363 lbs. isn’t much in the overall scheme of things. For one intercepted drug smuggling operation, there’s probably a dozen more that succeed.

    In no way am I invalidating the hard work of those officers (this is definitely a success) and I don’t purport to be an expert in U.S. customs policies regarding search of inbound merchant ships or imported food goods, but maybe- just maybe- there’s room for improvement here? Increased checkpoints on all sides of the shipping process, increased resources for CBP officers, maybe increased CBP officer numbers??

    Maybe we should focus less on keeping perfectly innocent people from seeking refuge in our country and more on keeping the drugs we fear they bring off of the streets.

    What do you think can be done to lower the amount of cocaine and other drugs smuggled into the country? Give us your (respectful) thoughts!

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