Federal authorities seize massive 221-pound shipment of cocaine at Southern California port

CBP intercepted two shipments totaling over 200 pounds at the end of January.

February 16, 2019, 2:22 AM

Federal authorities seized two massive shipments of cocaine at the same California port of entry in late January. The total for the two shipments was 221 pounds -- the largest at that port in 25 years, according to officials.

The busts, which were announced on Friday, were both found aboard ships at Port Hueneme in Ventura County, about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles, coming from Central and South America. The first shipment, which was 204.2 pounds, was seized on Jan. 22 on a cargo ship from Ecuador.

Six days later, the same authorities found a seven-bundle, 17.5-pound shipment of cocaine on a ship from Guatemala.

Customs and Border Protection officers found seven bundles of cocaine weighing 17.5 pounds on a ship from Guatemala at Port Hueneme, Calif., on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019.
Customs and Border Protection

Both deliveries were concealed beneath the floorboards of the ships.

Customs and Border Protection, Home Security Investigations and Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized the drugs in a joint operation.

"CBP plays a critical role in the effort to keep dangerous drugs from illegally entering the country. Specifically, by leveraging a comprehensive, multi-layered, intelligence driven, and threat-based approach to enhance the security of our seaports, we can diminish the effectiveness of transnational criminal organizations drug operations," Carlos C. Martel, CBP director of Field Operations in Los Angeles, said in a statement.

The seizures came just days after a joint drug bust between Australian and U.S. authorities on Jan. 11 resulted in a record 1.7 tons of methamphetamine being found at Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport.

The location of the bust announced Friday is only about 90 minutes northwest of Long Beach seaport.

That shipment included a record 3,810 pounds of meth, 55.9 pounds of cocaine and 11.5 pounds of heroin. Australian officials said the total street value of the haul was $1.29 billion.

Customs and Border Protection officials found 80 bundles of cocaine weighing 204.2 pounds in a ship from Ecuador at Port Hueneme, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019.
Customs and Border Protection

Officials said the seizure announced Friday was the largest bust at Port Hueneme "in the last quarter century."

No one has been arrested in the drug bust, according to CBP, but an investigation into the shipment is ongoing.

CBP seizes an average of 5,863 pounds of narcotics every day, according to government statistics.

CBP's Office of Field Operations, which monitors 328 ports of entry, seized 62,331 pounds of cocaine for fiscal year 2017, the last year for which full statistics are available. Another 9,346 pounds of cocaine were seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.