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Virginia paper: Drug find a case of luck

AN ARTICLE published in the “best paper in the state of Virginia” has stated that the $.6 billion cocaine bust in Norfolk, Virginia, USA, which originated from Trinidad and Tobago, was a case of luck and not based on any tip-off, contradicting claims made by National Security Minister Gary Griffith.

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.

An article published in The Virginian-Pilot, written by Scott Daugherty dated January 17, begins with the opening paragraph “they didn’t know for sure it was there”.

According to its website The Virginian-Pilot is the #1 source of news, information, entertainment and advertising in Southeast Virginia and northeastern North Carolina”

“Founded in 1865, The Pilot is a Pulitzer-prize-winning metro serving almost 350,000 readers daily and 470,000 on Sunday, has been named ‘best paper in the state of Virginia’ for 28 of the past 34 years,” the website stated.

According to Daugherty’s article no one gave a tip off about the cocaine cargo.

“No one called US Customs and Border Protection last month to tell them to be on the lookout for the 20-foot shipping container, and there was nothing inside to alert agents that anything was amiss,” the article stated.

“But a few customs officers had their suspicions. And with the help of a couple different X-ray machines—and some can openers - their collective hunch paid off,” it stated.

The find is what law enforcement officials in the US call a “cold hit” according to Customs and Border Protection Area Port Director Mark J Laria.

Laria announced the bust last Thursday.

“He praised the officers for finding the drugs on their own, without the help of an informant,” the article stated.

“This was a cold hit. There was no specific intelligence,” the article quoted Laria as saying.

“Officers targeted the container because of some recent, unspecified smuggling trends. Laria said they started out using large-scale X-ray machines, transitioned to some smaller devices and eventually pulled out the can openers,” the article stated.

“Laria said the officers could not have made the bust without the use of X-ray machines and other advanced pieces of scanning technology,” the article stated.

“It took every bit of it, as well as the officers’ knowledge and intuition, to locate this shipment,” the article quoted Laria as saying.

The entire article can be read on-line at:http://hamptonroads.com/2014/01/feds-seize-732-pounds-cocaine-port-norfolk
—Joel Julien
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