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September 30, 09

NEWS / Philadelphia CBP Interrupts Hashish Smuggling Route


Philadelphia - Customs and Border Protection officers threw a wrench into a Jamaica-to-Bermuda hashish smuggling route after arresting two “swallowers” attempting to smuggle more than 1.5 pounds of hashish through Philadelphia in the last two weeks.


The hashish, packaged in 112 thumb-sized pellets, has a street value of more that $22,000. The second internal smuggler also swallowed one marijuana pellet.


“Internal smuggling is not a new concealment method, but it is rare for Philadelphia, so discovering and interrupting a narcotics smuggling route is an exciting proposition,” said Allan Martocci, CBP port director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “Now that we have a clearer picture of this travel pattern locally, CBP enforcement officers will work hard to put an end to Philadelphia being used as a narcotics gateway.”

Sanchez Smith, 20, of Bermuda, was the first narcotics swallower to be detected. He arrived at Philadelphia International Airport from Montego Bay, Jamaica on September 18. He admitted to CBP enforcement officers during questioning that he was an internal carrier. CBP officers escorted Smith to a local hospital for an X-ray exam which revealed the presence of foreign bodies inside Smith. Over the course of last week, Smith passed 74 pellets that weighted a combined 469.9 grams, or a little more than one pound, for a street value of more than $13,000. Smith was released from the hospital on Saturday, September 26, and turned over to the Pennsylvania State Police.


As Smith was being released to PSP custody, Shakai Darrell, 25, of Bermuda, was escorted to a local hospital where X-rays confirmed the presence of foreign bodies. Darrell, who also arrived from Montego Bay and was destined for Bermuda, passed 38 pellets of hashish and one pellet of marijuana. The hashish pellets weighed 300 grams, or 10.5 ounces, with a street value of $8,500. Darrell was released from the hospital on Monday night and turned over to the Philadelphia Police Department.


Internal smugglers typically fashion pellets from the fingers of latex gloves or from prophylactics, and swallow them to pass later at their final destination. It is not unusual for experienced swallowers to ingest as many as 100 pellets. Internal smuggling is an extremely dangerous concealment method for the carrier. Carriers have died after narcotics pellets have breached while inside them.


CBP officers routinely examine travel patterns and national smuggling trends, but catching swallowers ultimately comes down to the experience and the instinct of the officer conducting the interview.


“These arrests significantly illustrate the vigilance that highly skilled CBP officers possess to detect bad actors and to stem the flow of illegal narcotics from entering our country,” said Martocci.


CBP issued immigration detainers on Smith and Darrell requiring them to be returned to CBP once their charges are adjudicated.


During 2008, CBP officers at the Port of Philadelphia made nine hashish seizures and seized a combined weight of less than one pound.

http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/news_releases/09292009.xml

 




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