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Nov. 5 – BREAKING - Savannah Customs and Border Protection Seizes Record Cocaine Load at Savannah Port

By Lou Phelps, SBJ

November 5, 2019 - Only days before Halloween, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of Savannah were treated to a port-record 2,133-pound cocaine seizure on October 29 which the CBP is just making public today.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of Savannah, Ga., seized a port-record 2,133 pounds of cocaine October 29, 2019 in a container of scrap aluminum and copper being shipped from South America to Europe.

CBP officers detected an anomaly during a non-intrusive examination of a shipping container aboard a vessel that docked in Savannah from South America. When officers opened the container, they discovered 21 duffel bags that contained a combined 818 bricks of a white powdery substance that field-tested positive for cocaine.  The cocaine weighed a combined 967 kilograms, or 2,133 pounds, and has a street value of about $31 million.

Authorities made no arrests at the time, but state that Homeland Security Investigations continue to investigate.

The container was being shipped from South America to Europe. The contents were manifested as aluminum/copper waste and scrap. As with all narcotics seizures, an investigation will attempt to learn when and where the cocaine was concealed inside the containers and where the load was destined, according to the CBP.

“Drug Trafficking Organizations are relentless in their attempts to smuggle drugs into the U.S.” said Christopher Kennally, Area Port Director Savannah. “Through hard work, dedication and tireless efforts of Customs and Border Protection officers in Savannah, we will continue to hit back at the Drug Trafficking Organizations by intercepting their dangerous drugs at our ports of entry before they can harm our communities.”

Tuesday’s seizure is CBP’s largest cocaine seizure at the Port of Savannah and marks CBP’s fifth narcotics interception in the seaport during the past five months. CBP’s previous record 1,280-pound cocaine seizure occurred in May 2019. That cocaine, which was aboard a container being shipped from South America, had an estimated street value of about $19 million.

 “In response to emerging narcotics smuggling trends and threats in the maritime environment, Customs and Border Protection has enhanced our enforcement strategy on targeting high-risk shipments from source narcotics nations that are either destined to Ports in the United States, or that pass through sovereign United States waters,” said Donald. F. Yando, Director of Field Operations Atlanta. “The scourge of illicit narcotics is a very serious international health and security threat, and CBP will continue to partner with our federal, state, local and international partners by intercepting these dangerous drugs when and where we can.”

CBP officers screen international travelers and cargo 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, security and economic vitality.

On average, CBP seized 4,657 pounds of narcotics every day last year across the United States. Learn about what CBP accomplished during "A Typical Day" in 2018.

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