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Valentine's Day flowers a target for federal drug searches

One would not usually connect Valentine's Day with drug trafficking enforcement. However, the Valentine's Day season triggers an increase in the use of one drug enforcement method, shipment searches.

Large numbers of cut flowers are imported into the United States during the Valentine's Day season. Many of these imports come through Florida. Reportedly, over 80 percent of the cut flowers that are imported into the United States during the time period around Valentine's Day go through Miami International Airport. These flowers originate from a variety of countries, including Columbia and Ecuador.

Authorities claim that some drug traffickers use this influx of imported flowers to sneak illegal drugs into the country. They claim that traffickers do this by hiding drugs within flower shipments.

Federal law enforcement engages in shipment searches to combat this alleged trafficking. Specifically, federal customs agents perform random searches of the flower shipments that come into Miami International Airport during the Valentine's Day season.

When drugs are found in a flower shipment, authorities will then monitor the delivery of the shipment and wait to see who comes to pick it up. Police use these controlled deliveries to identify and sometimes arrest individuals connected to the alleged drug trafficking.

The federal drug trafficking enforcement efforts surrounding Valentine's Day demonstrate a couple of things. First, they show how authorities will sometimes engage in searches of shipments of imported goods in order to detect potential drug trafficking activity. They also demonstrate how police will sometimes use controlled deliveries when conducting drug investigations.

Source: NPR, "Valentine Flower Imports Checked For Bugs, Drugs," (Article no longer available online) 3 Feb 2011

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