Cocaine hidden inside Caribbean cookbook, feds say

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Federal officers examined this cookbook. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection Photo)

Federal customs officers examining a package sent from a country in the Caribbean and bound for New York City discovered a hollowed-out cookbook hiding drugs last month, authorities said. 

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, based in Tennessee, said the cookbook — titled The Multi-Cultural Cuisine of Trinidad & Tobago & the Caribbean and published by girls' high school — was missing many of its recipes and photos because someone had carved a chamber in the pages. The officers found a rectangular packet of cocaine weighing about a third of a pound inside the cavity. 

"How was the recipient intending to cook his traditional callaloo, with all the pages cut up and replaced with cocaine?" CBP Assistant Area Port Director Michael Neipert said in a statement. "Smugglers continue to conceal narcotics and other contraband in myriad ways, which my officers seize over and over every shift."

The package was on its way from Trinidad and Tobago to an address in Brooklyn's Little Caribbean. The officers seized the package at an express consignment hub in Memphis.

"U.S. importers provide advance information about container cargo, express consignment shipments, and some international mail parcels bound for the United States. CBP uses this data to target and intercept high-risk shipments," the agency said in a news release. "CBP personnel are trained to identify patterns and red flags that enable them to intercept shipments that may contain illicit and potentially dangerous goods.

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