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Cocaine found on UN premises has nothing to do with UN: official

(Xinhua)

10:54, January 27, 2012

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- A senior official on Thursday said that the 14 kilograms of cocaine found earlier this month on the UN premises is from central South America but has nothing to do with the UN.

Gregory Starr, the UN under-secretary-general for safety and security, told reporters here that the drugs were found on Jan. 16 in two white dirty cotton bags with UN emblems printed on them.

"There is no indication whatsoever that this has anything to do with UN personnel, UN staff," he said. "These are not UN bags."

Starr showed a picture of the two suspicious cotton bags, which are much smaller than the usual UN diplomatic pouches.

"The pouchroom mail handlers were looking more closely at it and looked at two bags in particular that did not really look like the types of bags that we really normally use," Starr said.

He said that the two bags had no information on sender details, either.

"In my humble opinion, this was the work of narcotic traffickers that were trying to ship something into the U.S. and I think their plan must have gone wrong," he said.

Starr said that a total of 14 kilograms of cocaine was found in the shipment, but a New York Police Department spokeswoman put the quantity at 16 kilograms.

Starr did not disclose the name of the country from which the packages were shipped, but he ruled out Mexico.

The cocaine was found while the packages were screened by UN security personnel, and was later handed over to the narcotics department of New York City, he said.

All mails and packages are subject to screening for security reasons before they are brought into UN buildings.

"But again, we don't think this has really to do anything to do with us, but of course we are doing the proper alerts with our people internally," he said.

"We have looked at this closely and we're satisfied that this is being handled in the proper manner by the proper authorities," he added.

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