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Custom and Excise officers found cocaine hidden in a souvenir steelpan like the one above at the T&T Nastional Mail Centre in Piarco yesterday.

For the third time in two weeks, officers from the Customs and Excise Division have discovered packages at the T&T National Mail Centre in Piarco with cocaine hidden inside.

Senior Customs officers told Guardian Media that around 3.30 pm yesterday, a special exercise was conducted at the centre where specific packages were being monitored. Officers first inspected packages that contained foodstuff but did not find anything illegal.

However, officers later examined a package containing souvenir trinkets. In a souvenir steelpan, after it was taken apart, cocaine was found packed around the edges. They also discovered cocaine hidden in souvenirs containing one-dollar bills that were enclosed in glass cases and packed with coins. Sources said when they drilled through the dollar bills, they found cocaine hidden inside.

All the packages found weighed just under a total of one kilogram of cocaine. The estimated street value of a kilogram of cocaine is US$80,000 (TT$544,000).

On Monday this week, Customs and Excise officers also unearthed close to nine kilograms of cocaine hidden in several items they searched between then and last Friday. That cocaine was approximately 8.5 kilograms and amounted to US$720,000 (TT$4.8m).

Two Fridays ago, Customs and Excise officers also found $.3m worth of cocaine in preserved fruits at the T&T National Mail Centre.

In a release late yesterday, TTPost said they were currently upgrading their security policy on the use of courier and parcel post services to send documents and parcels overseas.

“Effective May 10, 2021, all customers tendering packages for overseas shipment are required to provide our Counter Staff with a clear photocopy of national identification in addition to the original for verification purposes,” TTPost said.

TTPost added that it wanted “to assure the public that the corporation will continue to enhance its security measures to protect the best interests of all customers, mail items, as well as the reputation of the organisation.”