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16 kilograms of cocaine seized at UN HQ

January 27, 2012 12:36 IST

Two bags containing about 16 kilograms of cocaine were seized at the mail intake centre of the United Nations at its headquarters in New York, UN and New York police officials have said.

The suspicious bags were "intercepted by the Security and Safety Service" last week, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said. The white bags had no name or address but had a poor image of the blue UN logo stamped on them.

The unusual shipment had been sent from Mexico city through shipping company DHL's centre in Cincinnati.

Nesirky said "neither the United Nations nor anyone located in the United Nations was the intended recipient of the packets" and the bags in which the cocaine was delivered were not UN diplomatic pouches.

The New York Police Department was notified about the packets when they were intercepted on January 16 and investigation is ongoing.

"The relevant host country authorities -- the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) -- were notified about the discovery of the suspicious bags and the material handed over to their custody," Nesirky said, adding that the US Mission to the United Nations was also informed about the incident.

New York Police Department spokesperson Paul Browne said the shipment was seized at the UN's postal receiving centre after it was scanned.

"It is my understanding that because there was no addressee, the DHL just thought well that's the UN symbol so we should ship it on to UN headquarters and let them figure out who it was supposed to go to," Browne said.

"There is nothing to indicate that this had anything to do with anybody at the United Nations," he added.

In the bag, the narcotics were hidden in 14 hard cover books that had been hollowed out.

UN undersecretary-general for safety and security Gregory Starr told reporters that the bags had been stamped with the UN logo so that they could be passed off as diplomatic pouches, which are not generally inspected.

"In my humble opinion this was the work of narcotics traffickers that were trying to ship something into the United States and their plan must have gone wrong," Starr added.

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