When merchant ship Santa Maria docked in the Port of Philadelphia one recent Thursday, field agents from the Philly branch of the DEA were waiting to inspect the pumpkins and squash in its hold. They but they weren't just waiting because it's decorative gourd season —Philadelphia magazine reported they'd been tipped off to a 383-lb shipment of the ultimate 70s party favor, cocaine hidden in those innocent seasonal accoutrements.
In a press conference covered by Philadelphia, Homeland Security agent John Kelleghan said the cocaine, which investigators believe was ultimately headed for The Bronx, "was expertly disguised in a shipment of squash and pumpkins." While there were no arrests after the seizure, there is an ongoing investigation.
As for the process of shifting all that autumnal goodness around in their search for the drug, assistant director for tactical operations at the port Paul Nardella told the media "everyone involved actually got their hands dirty." The operative word there was "actually," as Philly Mag reported the agents had to rummage through the boxes containing gourds to find cocaine, which was "laminated inside."
According to Philadelphia, this was only the eighth-largest seizure of its kind in the port's history. We're certain it was the most seasonally appropriate. There was no indication, however, that the cocaine was cut with pumpkin spice.
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