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Federal Agents Seize $38 Million Worth Of Cocaine At Port Of Philadelphia, Authorities Say

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) - Federal agents seized 1,185 pounds of cocaine worth $38 million from a shipping container at the Port of Philadelphia on Tuesday. U.S. Customs & Border Protection officials say it was their largest cocaine seizure in 21 years.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection officials confirmed multiple agencies were involved in the seizure of contraband at the port. Agencies assisting Tuesday morning included Delaware State Police, Pennsylvania State Police, Philadelphia police and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Joseph V. Martella, Customs and Border Protection Area Port Director of Philadelphia, said during a press conference Thursday morning that a CBP narcotics dog had alerted officers and they discovered 13 large black duffel bags that contained 450 bricks of cocaine.

Martella says the ship was ported in Guatemala before stopping in the Bahamas and was destined for the Netherlands. He says it wasn't clear where the cocaine was headed or where it was added to the shipment.

PHL Cocaine14L 031919
Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

"Late Tuesday night, we weighed the cocaine at 537.6 kilograms or 1,185 pounds and three ounces," Martella said.

Martella says the cocaine has a street value of approximately $38 million.

"This is the United States Customs and Border Protection's largest cocaine seizure in Philadelphia in 21 years," Martella said. "CBP seized 1,945 pounds of cocaine on May 23, 1998. Overall, Tuesday's seizure is CBP's fourth largest cocaine seizure on record in the Port of Philadelphia."

"Taking a half-ton of dangerous drugs out of circulation is a significant success for this collective team of federal, state and local law enforcement officers who work very hard every day to keep people safe," said Casey Durst, CBP's Director of Field Operations in Baltimore. "Customs and Border Protection remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners and to disrupting narcotics smuggling attempts at the Area Port of Philadelphia."

Last week, CBP says agents seized 3,200 pounds of cocaine worth approximately $77 million at Port New York/Newark.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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