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Philadelphia CBP Knocks Out Shipment of Dangerous Ketamine

 Concealed inside Boxing Mats destined to N.C. Screen Shot 2022-01-18 at 13.55.36

Release Date: 
January 14, 2022

PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia Customs and Border Protection officers were no lightweights when they beat the North Carolina consignee to the punch and delivered a knockout blow to nearly seven pounds of dangerous ketamine on January 5.

CBP officers discovered ketamine, which is a dangerous substance that is used as a club drug and in sexual assaults while inspecting a shipment manifested as “Boxing Wall Mats” from the Netherlands.

CBP officers didn’t pull any punches. They immediately detected an anomaly when they x-rayed the shipment of two-floor boxing mats. Officers then opened the boxing mats and found four packages of a white powdery substance wrapped in aluminum foil that was concealed inside the mats’ foam inserts. Officers tested the substance with a handheld elemental isotope analysis tool and identified the contents as ketamine hydrochloride.

The combined weight of the ketamine was 3.05 kilograms, or nearly six pounds, 12 ounces. It was destined to an address in Durham, N.C.

CBP officers turned the ketamine over to special agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). HSI special agents continue to investigate.

CBP officers aren’t going to throw in the towel anytime soon on their narcotics interdiction efforts. So far this fiscal year, which started on October 1, 2021, CBP officers in the Baltimore Field Office have reported 21 ketamine seizures with a combined weight of about 60 pounds. During the fiscal year 2021, Baltimore Field Office officers recorded 37 seizures with a combined weight of about 150 pounds.

“Customs and Border Protection officers are highly skilled at detecting creative drug smuggling concealment methods, such as the ketamine we found in these floor boxing mats,” said Joseph Martella, Area Port Director for CBP’s Area Port of Philadelphia. “We want to assure the public that CBP remains committed to answering the bell to help keep our communities safe from the scourge of dangerous drugs.”

Customs and Border Protection officers in Philadelphia seized nearly seven pounds of dangerous ketamine destined to Durham, N.C., on January 5, 2022.
Officers found the ketamine was concealed
inside the boxing mats foam filler.

According to the DEA, ketamineis a Schedule III non-narcotic drug regulated under the Controlled Substances Act. Ketamine, commonly known on the street as Special K, distorts perceptions, causes amnesia, temporary paralysis, and dangerously slows breathing, potentially shutting down body systems and leading to cardiac arrest or respiratory failure.

Along with other club drugs, ketamine is popular among teens and young adults at dance clubs and raves. It delivers hallucinogenic effects and is sometimes used to facilitate sexual assault crimes.

CBP officers and agents seized an average of 4,732 pounds of dangerous drugs every day at our nation’s air, land and seaports of entry. See what else CBP accomplished during a typical day in 2021.

CBP's border security mission is led at ports of entry by CBP officers from the Office of Field Operations. CBP officers screen international travelers and cargo and search for illicit narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, counterfeit consumer goods, prohibited agriculture, and other illicit products that could potentially harm the American public, U.S. businesses, and our nation’s safety and economic vitality.

Please visit CBP Ports of Entry to learn more about how CBP’s Office of Field Operations secures our nation’s borders. Learn more about CBP at

Follow the Director of CBP’s Baltimore Field Office on Twitter at @DFOBaltimore for breaking news, current events, human interest stories and photos, and CBP’s Office of Field Operations on Instagram at @cbpfieldops.

Last modified: 
January 14, 2022