Four Berks County, Pennsylvania Men Arrested for Smuggling Cocaine in Xbox

Xbox video game consoles are the latest household item that drug smugglers are using to bring cocaine into the country. Four men were arrested in mid-October for allegedly smuggling thousands of grams of cocaine from the Dominican Republic to Berks County, PA using the popular video gaming consoles.Homeland Security investigators, in conjunction with U.S. Customs and the Border Protection Office in Philadelphia, said the shipments had a potential street value of over $100,000. Felix Josue Rodriguez-Pabon, 22, Nelson Audelin Martinez, 26, Wilson Michael Herrera, 20, and Yefries Guillen Herrera, 22, all of Reading, Pa., have been charged with delivery of a controlled substance and other related offenses.

Investigators had been tracking the shipment of cocaine via Xbox video game consoles from the Dominican Republic. The shipments, described as “Video Game Xbox 360 Use” were sent to several different addresses in Berks County. An undercover federal agent delivered the packaged to one of the addresses. Investigators tracked the man who signed for the delivery, Yefries Herrera, to another address, where he met the other suspects.

After police obtained search warrants and searched the premise, they found 1100 grams of cocaine with a potential street value in excess of $100,000, according to NBC News 10 Philadelphia. Police also seized miscellaneous packaging materials related to cocaine, a heat sealer machine, cutting agents for cocaine, over fourteen cell phones, five counter-surveillance cameras, a box of .40 caliber ammunition and a loaded gun magazine, a digital scale, and a plastic bag containing crack cocaine. The investigators also found the disassembled Xbox gaming consoles on the kitchen table.

Drug Trafficking from the Dominican Republic Increased by 800% in 2 Years

In recent years, the Dominican Republic (DR) has emerged as the new Caribbean center for drug trafficking. From 2011 to 2013, experts estimate that the trafficking of cocaine from of the Caribbean island to Europe and the United States increased by more than 800 percent, according to the Huffington Post. For example, in just the first two weeks of 2013, the Dominican government seized more than a quarter of the total amount of all the cocaine it confiscated in 2012. Puerto Rican government officials, worried that the trafficking may spill over to their island, have activated the National Guard to fight drug and weapons trafficking.

The European Union’s COPOLAD Program (an EU drug partnership program run in conjunction with Latin America) blames the Dominican ports of Multimodal Caucedo and Haina. Citing the ports’ lack of technological resources and control, COPOLAD warns that drug trafficking through these ports could pose a serious security threat to the United States and European countries. The system currently used to track shipments through the DR is easily susceptible to corruption and increased violence. Pro-DR business groups have pushed back against U.S. Homeland Security efforts to inspect all containers – making it all too easy for drugs to leave the ports.

Despite the rise in popularity of designer party drugs, the demand for cocaine in the United States continues to be strong. The effects of this demand are clearly felt in Caribbean nations home to drug smuggling. For example, in 2011, there were 26 homicides for every 100,000 Puerto Ricans compared with 18 for every 100,000 Mexicans. Both statistics are related to drug gang violence. While the recent cocaine seizure in Pennsylvania is important, it’s clear that more work needs to be done to stop the flow of illegal drugs out of Caribbean countries and into the United States.
http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/weird/4-Berks-County-Men-Arrested-for-Smuggling-Cocaine-Inside-Xbox-360-Consoles-278913831.html http://www.wilx.com/home/headlines/Cops-4-Pennsylvania-Men-Smuggled-Drugs-in-Xboxes-278949031.html http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/23/dominican-republic-emerge_n_2533210.html

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