The investigation continues into a record drug seizure at Philadelphia International Airport — 130 pounds of cocaine stashed inside three unattended duffle bags.
Customs officials said they seized the cocaine, with an estimated street value of $4 million, on Sunday. Customs officials said the seizure is far bigger than the previous record of 55 pounds, confiscated in August 2000.
“This is by far the largest amount of cocaine that any of us can remember seizing in the Philadelphia airport,” said Allan Martocci, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia, in a published report. “The volume alone raises concern for us. Customs and Border Protection officers remain steadfastly vigilant to stop narcotics here at our border before it can hurt our families and our communities. Any day that we can remove 130 pounds of cocaine from circulation is a good day.”
Law enforcement officials said the luggage arrived on a flight from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. After passengers left the international inspection station, officials with a narcotics detecting canine found the drugs. Authorities are trying to determine whom the bags belonged to, and where those individuals were heading.
Information released through the National Drug Intelligence Center indicates that cocaine is the primary drug threat in Pennsylvania. That assessment is based on the narcotic’s ready availability, level of abuse, statewide distribution and the violence that often accompanies drug trafficking. The Center reports that cocaine abuse in the state is gradually declining, but abuse of cocaine remains higher than any other illegal drug.
The report says that statewide, powder and crack cocaine are readily available, and that most of it is trafficked in from sources in Colombia and the Dominican Republic to wholesale organizations operating in Philadelphia and New York City. Pittsburgh is a distribution center for various locations in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and northwestern West Virginia. Retail locations are found throughout Pennsylvania, with local independent African-American, Caucasian, Hispanic, and other ethnic criminal groups and street gangs involved in distribution.
Gun violence has claimed three lives in three separate incidents.
Terrance Gordon, 33, was shot at 1:17 p.m. on Wednesday at the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s Abbottsford Home development in Hunting Park. Police arrived in the 3200 block of Authority Terrace to find Gordon shot in the head. Police have not determined a motive nor made any arrests.
Nachaib Neumann, 20, was shot at 5:56 p.m. on Tuesday in the 1200 block of West Rockland Street. He was shot in the left flank. During the same incident, a 17-year-old male was shot in the left arm. He was treated at the hospital and released. Police have no arrests.
Lite Belbski, 37, was shot Tuesday, 8 p.m. on the 5200 block of Parkside Avenue. He was shot multiple times in the torso. Police have no motive or arrests.
A 30-year-old woman who was electrocuted when she fell on the tracks Thursday morning at the Lombard–South Subway station has been identified as Stephanie Ebersole. According to SEPTA officials, a surveillance camera recorded Ebersole entering the track area at around 2:19 a.m. She lay on the train tracks until after 5 a.m., when she was hit by the first train to arrive at the station.
In other crime-related news, local Customs and Border Protection officers have announced their seventh largest cocaine seizure with an approximate street value of about $12 million. The seizure occurred July 9 when officers discovered 386 pounds of cocaine concealed in the body of a pickup truck shipped from Puerto Rico.
While conducting inspections of vehicles that arrived at Petty’s Island, N.J., CBP officers discovered anomalies within the bed panels and extended cab doors of a 2006 Chevrolet pickup.
CBP officers disassembled the panels and doors and discovered 148 packages of a white, powdery substance that tested positive for cocaine. The packages had a combined weight of 175.2 kilograms, or 386 pounds, 4 ounces.
“This is a significant cocaine seizure and an outstanding example of how Customs and Border Protection officers employ technology to intercept narcotics smuggling attempts,” said Allan Martocci, CBP port director for the Area Port of Philadelphia.
“Let this seizure be a warning that Customs and Border Protection officers remain committed to stopping nefarious narcotics networks from smuggling their deadly poison through the Port of Philadelphia.”
CBP turned over the pickup truck and cocaine to agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations.