Authorities Seize $77 Million Worth of Cocaine

In a joint operation with the New York Police Department, the New York State Police, and several other agencies, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency seized nearly 3,200 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $77 million at the Port of Newark/New York late last month.

The bust is reportedly the second biggest drug bust of all time at the Port of Newark/New York, and the largest one in almost 25 years, when nearly 6,600 pounds of cocaine was seized, according to a CBP press release. A spokesperson for CBP said that the shipping container was found on a ship traveling from South America.

Authorities first launched the investigation when a suspicious-looking shipping container filled with 60 packages entered the United States. The packages were found to contain a powdery white substance, which were later revealed after testing to be cocaine.

The press release linked the drug bust to dealers increasingly cutting cocaine with fentanyl, though many drug experts say that this is either happening at the top of the supply chain, or happening when cocaine is accidentally contaminated during the cutting process — either way, most dealers are unaware that their product has been laced with fentanyl. But it’s gotten so bad that about 22 percent of 2016 fentanyl-related overdose deaths involved cocaine, according to a JAMA Psychiatry study.

“Cocaine, New York’s nemesis of the 90’s, is back — indicating traffickers push to build an emerging customer base of users mixing cocaine with fentanyl,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan said in the press release. “This record-breaking seizure draws attention to this new threat and shows law enforcement’s collaborative efforts in seizing illicit drugs before it gets to the streets and into users’ hands.”

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