Huge cocaine bust underscores inconvenient truth for Trump: Majority of drugs come through ports

As President Trump drummed up support for the billions of dollars he sought for a border wall, he routinely pointed to one crime that he said the edifice would stop: drug smuggling.

“[U]nlike what the Democrats say, they don’t, you don’t bring trucks of drugs through the checkpoints,” he said at the end of January.

Two weeks later, after he announced his intent to declare a national emergency, he brought it up again: “A big majority of the big drugs, the big drug loads don’t go through ports of entry,” he said. “They can’t go through ports of entry. You can’t take big loads because you have people. We have some very capable people, the Border Patrol, law enforcement, looking.”

But a historically large drug bust announced Monday, nearly two thousand miles away from the United States-Mexico border, underscored how drug smugglers do look to ports of entry for large drug running jobs. Despite Trump’s claims, experts say the majority of drugs come into the United States through legal ports of entry — not illegal crossings.

Customs and Border Protection announced a task force drawn from six law enforcement organizations had seized 3,200 pounds of cocaine — a street-value of $77 million — on Feb. 28, 2019, not from some dusty overland trail in Texas, but from a shipping container that arrived at the Port of New York/Newark outside of New York City.

It was the largest cocaine seizure at the port in nearly 25 years. The CBP joined with the U.S. Coast Guard, Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York Police Department and State Police for the operation.

“This record breaking seizure draws attention to this new threat and shows law enforcement’s collaborative efforts in seizing illicit drugs before it gets to the streets and into users’ hands,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan said in a statement.

Trump’s assertions about how drugs travel over the border have also been contradicted by members of his own administration, as has been chronicled extensively by The Washington Post’s Philip Bump.


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