To the many mysteries of the United Nations, we may now add the case of the curious cocaine shipment, which arrived recently in the UN mailroom in two sacks emblazoned with pale copies of the blue UN logo. Inside the sacks were 16 kilos of cocaine, hidden inside hollowed-out notebooks. UN security officials spotted the shipment and turned it over to the New York Police Department for investigation.
The first two mysteries are who sent the shipment, and who was meant to receive it. The sacks reportedly arrived via DHL, from Mexico, but UN officials say there was no sender listed, nor were the sacks addressed to anyone. Because the sacks looked like UN diplomatic pouches, DHL delivered them to the UN. But UN officials say “the two suspicious bags were not intended for the United Nations and were not UN diplomatic pouches.”
Rife with drugs though Mexico may be, it’s hard to chalk this up to some Mexican drug dealer simply losing track of his (or her) wares and, in a giddy moment, tossing 16 kilos of coke in two fake UN pouches and dropping them off at DHL with never a care about where they might end up. Depending on which account you go with, the street value was at least $440,000 (according to the LA Times) or maybe $2 million (according to Sky News). So what’s going on?
And then there’s the further mystery, as highlighted by Matthew Russell Lee of Inner-City Press at the UN’s Friday noon briefing: “Why, when the bags were discovered, there was no attempt to wait to see who might try to pick them up?”
The reply this question elicited from the UN spokesperson was the circular argument that since there was no address on the bags with the fake UN logo, they were not intended for the UN, and there was no point in waiting to see if someone would try to pick them up:
“There was no address, either addressee or from whom these bags had come– there was nothing; nothing. So it is rather odd to think, well you need to wait for someone, turn up when the bags were never intended to come here in the first place.”
We don’t yet know what was going on with these wayward sacks of cocaine. But what does seem clear is that UN authorities had strangely little interest in finding out.