35 pounds of cocaine found in U.N. mailroom
There was something odd about two sacks that showed up this month in the United Nations mailroom, even if they did have what appeared to be the distinctive U.N. seal, with its globe framed by olive branches. It was blue, but a shade lighter than usual, and the sacks did not include the words "United Nations."
What's more, the sacks had no return address, or even an addressee. Package handlers at a U.N. mail room ran the bags through an X-ray screener.
Inside were 14 hollowed-out textbooks, each containing a little more than 2 pounds of cocaine, New York police told The Times on Friday.
U.N. security officials notified the New York Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Agency, which seized about 35 pounds of cocaine with a street value of $440,000, said NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne.
Officials do not believe the cocaine, which was delivered to the U.N. complex last week by DHL, was intended for a diplomat.
"There’s some theory that was this was an attempt to disguise this as a diplomatic pouch," Browne said. "If so, it was a very amateurish one."
Diplomatic pouches bear the words "diplomatic mail" and "United Nations," Browne said. These two bags had no text on them at all and looked obviously different from official pouches.
"Any experienced personnel at the U.N. would know instantly that this was a fake," he said.
The investigation is ongoing, but at this point, no arrests have been made. Browne, who has 20 years in law enforcement, said he could not recall a case like this at the U.N.
-- Ricardo Lopez
Photo: Gregory B. Starr, undersecretary general of the United Nations for Safety and Security, displays a photo of two bags that contained 35 pounds of cocaine seized last week at the U.N.'s mail intake center. Credit: Paulo Filgueiras / United Nations via Associated Press