Federal authorities seized more than 600 pounds of marijuana, valued at about $2.5 million, concealed in a hidden compartment of a shipping container.
The Customs and Border Protection Agency called it one of largest marijuana seizures ever at the Port of Philadelphia.
Officers from the CPB and Homeland Security Investigations extracted 252 bricks of cannabis hidden in a container of rice that arrived March 7 from Puerto Rico. The container was bound for northern New Jersey.
“Philadelphia is not a common drug trans-shipment port, but we do get an occasional ‘ripload’,” said Steve Sapp, CBP spokesman. “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.”
The CBP discovered the marijuana shipment after an x-ray detected an anomaly with the density of the materials that had been reported in the container. “All containers get some level of scrutiny,” Sapp said. A narcotics-sniffing dog alerted officers during in a sweep. When officers pulled up the container’s floor they found the marijuana hidden in the bottom layer.