Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 18th 2014 Contents United States authorities have seized an
estimated US$100 million (approx TT$644
million) worth of cocaine concealed in cans
of juice shipped from Trinidad to Norfolk,
Although the shipment was seized on
December 20, the haul was only reported in
US media on Thursday after officials held a
media briefing and issued a press release. The
find was described as the largest seizure in
the port of Norfolk s history.
The drugs were concealed in 700 cans that
appear to be manufactured by the Citrus Grow-
ers Association, a subsidiary of SM Jaleel, and
were being shipped in a container destined
for New York. The cans contained a total of
732 pounds of cocaine. The cans containing
the drugs also contained some liquid.
Conflicting reports surfaced on whether the
drugs were found following a tip-off or through
a random search.
In a story carried in a Virginia paper, the
Daily Press, US Customs and Border Protection
(CBP) area port director Mark Laria said officers
used advanced technology to do an initial
inspection of the 20-foot container, but after
anomalies were discovered, they did a more
extensive search, during which time the nar-
cotics were found.
The report said they discovered the drugs
by a "cold hit," meaning officials received no
specific intelligence about its presence. Rather,
a CBP officer targeted the shipment for inspec-
tion using port knowledge, automatic targeting
tools and information about recent smuggling
trends, Laria said. However, US-based News
Channel 3 reported that the container was
flagged as soon as it left T&T, but the CBP
could not check it until it got to the US.
This is the second time in as many months
that SM Jaleel s products have been implicated
in a drug case. Royal Navy veteran Joromie
Lewis, 33, of Gosport, Hampshire, died hours
after drinking a cocaine-tainted 20-oz Pear D
drink on December 5. This prompted the com-
pany to remove the product from local shelves.
It does not export Pear D to the UK.
Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
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SM Jaleel yesterday denied that the shipment was
theirs. Asked if they shipped juice to the US, a com-
pany spokesman said Trinidad Juice is officially
exported to the US all year round.
"All export containers shipped in 2013 were received
by the authorised food and beverage company, the
last shipment being received in November. This
December shipment was not made by SM Jaleel."
Asked whether the company planned to withdraw
the juices locally, the spokesman said: "There is no
reason to withdraw the product. The US authorities
have not issued a product recall, which they would
if there was the slightest suspicion of public health
"From the ABC report, cocaine was not in the
juice. The tins which contained juice did not contain
the tightly packed cocaine.
"SM Jaleel will continue to comply with the various
legislations both locally and internationally relating
to the production and exportation of products."
In a statement posted on its Web site, the company
said: "It is common knowledge that the criminals
involved in the drug trade have been using mech-
anisms to transport cocaine such as fruit, car parts,
lumber, hardware etc.
"It now appears that someone may be trying to
utilise our company s product in this regard. We too
have only just been recently informed of the situation
that occurred almost a month ago, regarding the use
of our TJC orange---and grapefruit-flavoured juice
tins in the smuggling of cocaine into the US and
have, to date, not been contacted by the relevant US
authorities in connection with this matter. At present
we have no knowledge or evidence of the details
other than the press release from the US.
"We have already commenced our own internal
investigation; however, we are not yet in a position
to provide any further details at this time."
The company said neither the Narcotics Bureau
nor T&T Customs were contacted by the US author-
ities, so this likely meant that it is a foreign issue
that will be solved abroad.
No local recall
The Ministry of Health has not ordered the with-
drawal of Trinidad Juices from local shelves.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Collin Furlonge said the
fruit juices cannot be recalled until investigations
"I will in fact try and find out more about the
matter before I make any recommendations about
this," Furlonge said.
Director of the Chemistry Food and Drug Division
Adrian Mc Carthy also said shelf recalls cannot be
done without proper investigation.
"Usually we will be alerted through international
health regulations about this matter. We are part of
that network and we receive alerts from them con-
cerning matters like this. We have not received any
such directive," Mc Carthy said.
Asked whether he believed a product recall was
warranted, Mc Carthy admitted, "That is not some-
thing we can easily do. To make that recommendation
is harsh until we investigate. We should have been
alerted to this already. We knew of the incident in
the UK but not this one. I cannot make a definitive
statement until investigations are complete."
Saturday, January 18, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Officer stumbles upon major drug find
Cocaine from T&T
found at US port
The haul of cocaine which was seized by US Customs and Border Protection officers at a
port in Norfolk, Virginia, last month. The drugs were seized on December 20 in a
shipment of Trinidad Juices from T&T bound for New York. PHOTO COURTESY DAILY
Minister of National Security Gary Grif-
fith said yesterday that T&T is collabo-
rating with the US Drug Enforcement
Agency to crack drug cartels.
Although he refused to comment on
the Norfolk drug bust because investiga-
tions were ongoing, Griffith admitted that
such busts were the result of international
Saying intelligence was being shared in
real time, Griffith revealed that 41 weapons
had been seized in T&T within 16 days,
along with 50 kilos of cocaine and 20
kilos of marijuana.
"Agreements have been signed with
Venezuela and Colombia to stamp out
the drug trade," Griffith said.
He added that T&T s intelligence also
passed information to the United Kingdom
and the French customs, which led to the
seizure of 800 kilos of cocaine recently.
Police Commissioner Stephen Williams
did not answer his phone so the T&T
Guardian could verify whether the police
were assisting the US with the investi-
gation. Head of the Organised Crime,
Narcotics and Firearms Unit, acting Senior
Supt Garrick also could not be reached
for comment yesterday.
Press specialist in the public affairs
section of the US Embassy, Charleen
Thomas, could not give details on whether
the embassy was aware of the Norfolk
seizure or if any arrests had been made.
The embassy s Alexander Mc Laren
said the Norfolk drug bust was a US-
based case so questions should be raised
with Virginia Dabbs, the CBP public affairs
specialist for the State of Virginia. She
could not be reached up to press time.
Communications specialist at the
Customs and Excise Department Alicia
Charles also said she would investigate
the origins of the shipment yesterday,
but she too was unavailable up to
Griffith: We're co-operating
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