Officials at the Port of Hueneme discovered over 200 pounds of cocaine. This is reported to be the largest drug bust made at these ports in 25 years. The cocaine was found aboard two ships carrying produce from Central and South America, according to the Ventura Country Star.
On January 22nd, authorities from border patrol boarded a cargo ship from Ecuador. In their search, they found 80 packages of cocaine hidden beneath the floorboards of the ship. These packages contained over 200 pounds of cocaine.
After, on January 28th, a ship that had arrived from Guatemala was also searched. Over 17 pounds of cocaine were found in packets beneath its floorboards as well.
In total, 221.7lbs of cocaine were found, reports say.
The investigation was carried out by officers from Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responsible for the security of the border and international trade and travel. HIS is an investigative branch of the Department of Homeland Security.
The Customs and Border Protection director for the port of Hueneme, LaFonda Sutton-Burke, said she was proud of the results of the joint effort. “It shows the professionalism, vigilance and keen focus of both agencies in preventing dangerous drugs into our communities,” Sutton-Burke said.
According to Jaime Ruiz from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, this normally doesn’t happen at Port Hueneme. The port is the only deep-water port between Los Angeles and San Francisco, known for imports of pineapples, bananas, and cars. It is also a popular tourist destination, Hueneme Beach Park nearby.
“This normally doesn’t happen in Port Hueneme,” said Ruiz. “These are big companies, so it’s a big shock for them. They’re probably going to review procedures and security measures because of this.”
This drug bust came just after authorities reportedly seized 1.7 tons of methamphetamines, cocaine, and heroin, that was to be shipped to Australia from the Long Beach seaport of Los Angles.
Six people were arrested in the Los Angeles case, but there have yet to be any arrests made in the Port Hueneme case.
Joseph Macias, a special agent from Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) has said that as drug-traffickers HSI is working around the clock to try and stop the crime.
“HSI is generating a significant amount of intelligence in this investigation, which we will use to identify, disrupt and ultimately dismantle the criminal organization behind this scheme,” said Macias.