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DEA to meet officials today on $.6b canned cocaine bust

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

INVESTIGATORS from the United States’ Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are expected to meet with officials from this country’s Customs and Excise Division today in order to determine who would have shipped the cocaine with a street value of $.6 billion which would have ended up in Norfolk, Virginia, USA, last month, the Express has learnt.

Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officers seized 732 pounds of cocaine concealed in cans bearing the labels of Trinidad Orange and Grapefruit juices at the Port of Norfolk in Virginia, United States on December 20 last year.

The discovery was made during the inspection of a 20-foot container containing the fruit juices.

The wholesale value of the cocaine is about US$12 million and has a street value of as much as US$100 million, according to Customs officials. 

The seizure is the largest in the history of the Port of Norfolk.
Port officials stated that the container originated from this country and was destined for New York.

The container carrying the drugs was said to be flagged as soon as it left this country, National Security Minister Gary Griffith said.

No arrests were made.

DEA officials are said to be in this country investigating the situation.
They are scheduled to meet with Customs and Excise officials today as part of that investigation.

For the second time in two months a drink produced by local manufacturing company SM Jaleel and Co Ltd has been associated internationally with the illegal drug trade.

SM Jaleel and Co Ltd has distanced itself from the illegal export.

ExportTT Ltd, which was designated by the Cabinet of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to be the sole national export facilitation organisation of Trinidad and Tobago, has backed SM Jaleel and Co Ltd.

A letter from ExportTT stated, “A review of SM Jaleel and Co Ltd’s exports of Trinidad Juices to the United States of America during the year 2013 indicates four shipments all from the Port of Point Lisas to Brooklyn, NY. The last shipment being in November 2013. The shipping line used by SM Jaleel and Co Ltd has always been Seaboard Marine.”

The cocaine shipment was sent from the Port of Port of Spain.

“Since SM Jaleel did not make the shipment, we were horrified and shocked.  The owners of the company and many of our staff are traumatised since we pride ourselves on being a model of local business success and on being Trinidad and Tobago’s #1 exporter of non-petro chemical products, operating in five continents,” SM Jaleel stated on its website yesterday.

“It is a significant and devastating blow. The company is celebrating its 90th year this year, being founded in 1924 and is owned and operated by the third and fourth generation of the founding family. We have always had a reputation of integrity both locally and internationally,” SM Jaleel stated.
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