Federal agents seized nearly 100 pounds of cocaine worth several million dollars smuggled inside a shipment of imported pineapples bound for New Jersey.
Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conducting a surprise inspection at the Port of Wilmington in Delaware made the discovery Wednesday after a K-9 unit alerted them to the presence of narcotics in boxes of pineapples originating from San Carlos, Costa Rica, reports The Associated Press.
The massive haul of cocaine, weighing in at 99.66 pounds, carries an estimated street value of roughly $7.6 million. (RELATED: Trafficker Admits To Smuggling Nearly 7 Pounds Of Cocaine Through Newark Airport Sewn Into Neck Pillows)
“The cocaine was secreted within the corrugated bottoms of 20 cardboard boxes containing pineapples from San Carlos, Costa Rica,” CBP officials said in a statement Friday. “The shipment was destined to Clifton, New Jersey.”
The Port of Wilmington has been the site of several drug seizures by federal authorities over recent months, including thousands of pills of Adderall and Xanax.
Cocaine is increasingly being linked to drug overdose deaths in the U.S. due to dealers cutting supplies with synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Cocaine deaths spiked by 52 percent nationally between 2015 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, following many years of relatively stable numbers.
Officials estimate the substance is killing roughly 13,000 Americans each year, up from 6,700 in 2015.
Authorities fear that because cocaine is more widely used as a social drug than a substance like heroin, many users are unaware of the fatal risks even a small amount of the drug now carries.
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