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$2.5 Million Worth of Marijuana Seized at Philadelphia Port

The 614-pound shipment was one of the largest marijuana busts in the Philadelphia port.

A.J. Herrington

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$2.5 Million Worth of Marijuana Seized at Philadelphia Port
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Agents with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol seized more than 600 pounds of marijuana at the Area Port of Philadelphia last week, according to media reports. The pot was discovered on March 7 in a shipping container that had been transported to the City of Brotherly Love from Puerto Rico. Agents found approximately 614 pounds of weed, with an estimated street value of $2.5 million, in the container.

“This is one of the largest seizures of marijuana that Customs and Border Protection have encountered in the Area Port of Philadelphia,” said Casey Durst, the director of field operations for Customs and Border Protection in Baltimore. “This is an outstanding example of how CBP keeps our communities safe from illegal drugs.”

Customs agents found 252 bricks of cannabis in the container, which was bound for New Jersey. Steve Sapp, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, confirmed that the seizure was unusual for the port.

“Philadelphia is not a common drug trans-shipment port, but we do get an occasional ‘ripload’,” said Sapp. “A baggage handler may have a friend in the Dominican Republic or Jamaica or Puerto Rico put a load on a plane. When it arrives here, they’ll have someone divert it from the international baggage belt to the national belt, then send somebody out from the street to run in and pick it up. Something like this is not common.”

High Tech Bust

The shipment of pot was discovered after sensitive Customs and Border Patrol x-ray scanners determined that the density of the cargo in the container was not consistent with what would be expected for the reported contents.

“All containers get some level of scrutiny,” Sapp said.

A drug-sniffing dog was then brought to investigate the shipping container further and alerted to officers. When agents then searched the shipment they found the bricks of cannabis hidden under the floor in the container. Officers then extracted a “green leafy substance” from one of the packages. The sample was analyzed and tested positive for marijuana.

Sapp noted that despite the continued reform of marijuana laws, interstate cannabis commerce is still not legal.

“Marijuana may be legal for medicinal use in Pennsylvania and New Jersey,” Sapp said. “But it’s not legal federally and it’s certainly not legal to smuggle in 614 pounds.”

The investigation into the illegal marijuana shipment has been turned over to the Department of Homeland Security Investigations and the confiscated marijuana will be destroyed. Customs and Border Protection seizes an average of 4,657 pounds of narcotics every day in the United States. The agency announced on Tuesday that it had confiscated 3,200 pounds of cocaine worth $77 million in a shipping container at the Port of New York and New Jersey in Newark on February 28. The bust was the largest seizure of drugs at the port in more than 25 years.

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