$1.5 Million in Cocaine Found in Bus Toilet

By Kelly Burch 02/01/18

Unusual drug finds at the border may become more common as a "tsunami of cocaine" hits the global market.

...and it wasn't the first time.

Border patrol agents are accustomed to finding drugs being smuggled in new and unusual places, but the discovery of $1.5 million worth of cocaine stuffed in a commercial bus toilet raised eyebrows.

Agents in Falfurrias, Texas, found 15 bundles of cocaine in the toilet of a commercial bus that was transporting people from Mexico into the United States, according to the Caller Times. Agents first noticed that the bathroom looked like it had been tampered with, and referred the bus for a secondary screening. When they examined the area further, they found the drugs.

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time that border agents have intercepted a cocaine shipment hidden in the toilet of a commercial bus. Last May, authorities discovered a similar sized shipment—15 bundles of cocaine worth about $1.4 million—in the toilet of a bus at a Sarita, Texas checkpoint, according to the Associated Press.

In that case, a drug-sniffing dog signaled that the bus might have drugs. After the drugs were discovered, passengers were allowed to reenter the bus, which continued into the United States.

Unusual drug finds at the border may become more common as cocaine use rebounds in the United States. A DEA report released last fall found that cocaine use was becoming more common in many areas.

“In 2016 and 2017, multiple DEA [offices] reported increases in the quantity and purity of cocaine available,” the report said. Cocaine-related deaths rose more than 25% between 2014 and 2015, reaching their highest level in nine years, according to the DEA. The percentage of people who reported using cocaine increased at a similar rate.

This is due in part to more people mixing cocaine with opioids, including fentanyl. This mixture accounted for 37% percent of overdose deaths in New York City last year.

In addition to increased demand from American drug users, there has also been a boost to the supply of cocaine. Last August, a Miami-based DEA official warned of a tidal wave of cocaine bound for the United States.

"I talk about it as really an approaching tsunami of cocaine getting ready to hit the global market,” said Coast Guard Adm. Christopher Tomney, the director of Joint Interagency Task Force South, at the time.

Tomney pointed out that cocaine production has increased in Colombia in recent years. Despite the fact that officials predict that more cocaine is coming into the U.S., they often lack the resources to stop shipments, he said.

“It's very frustrating for the men and women of this task force knowing we could be doing so much more,” he said.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
Kelly Burch Contrib.jpg

Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.