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UN Starr Spins Media, After ICP Exclusive, Of DEA & Mexican Police: UN Recipient?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 26 -- After Inner City Press this morning exclusively published, and at noon asked, about cocaine found inside the UN, six hours later the UN produced for a dozen reporters Security chief Gregory Starr, with photographs of two "UN" bags he said the "controlled substance" arrived in.

  Starr confirmed the incident occurred on January 16. Inner City Press' law enforcement sources say the NY Police Department and Drug Enforcement Agency arrived at the UN that day at 12:30 in the afternoon.

  Inner City Press asked Starr why the UN had not disclosed the find of 14 kilos of cocaine ten days ago, until its exclusive story and question. Starr insisted it is a US law enforcement matter, and later implied the UN would never have made it public absent Inner City Press' exclusive expose.

  The hole in Starr's and the UN's spin is to say that 14 kilos of cocaine showing up inside the UN, in bags marked "UN," is "not a UN matter." Several security sources asked Inner City Press why a pick-up of the bags had not been awaited.

  "If a bag marked 'UN' is automatically brought by DHL inside the UN, sure the person intending to go pick up the 'lost' package could be in the UN," one source told Inner City Press. "But now the way they've done it, we'll never know. Someone may be breathing easy."

  While Starr said the packages originated in Central or South America, he never refused to rule out Mexico, which is in neither. But US law enforcement tells the Press that the Mexican Federal Police are now involved. "We want to know who gave the package to DHL, they'd have to a so-called 'Reliable Shipper,'" as one source put it.

(c) MRLee
UN's Starr shows photo of "UN" bags: how not a UN story?

  Local law enforcement was critical of errors in derivative reports, which misquoted the estimate street value as $2 million instead of $440,000, and alleged "cartel" involvement without any proof.

Starr showed the convened media photos of the bags, while his colleague David Bongi, about whom Inner City Press has previously reported, held up actual Diplomatic Mail bags, which Starr then implied should not be photographed or published.

  But the immediate turn over -- Starr said to NYPD, but other sources say the DEA took possession -- had the effect of making it impossible to know if a person with access to the UN mail room was going to try to pick up the bags. "So someone's being protected," as a source put it.

Inner City Press asked Starr if, for example, all entries into the UN connected to general contractor Skanska and the UN's Capital Master Plan rehabilitation are screened. Starr claimed they are, but even other UN Security sources say different.

  Absent this morning's story, Inner City Press asked Starr, would you ever have made this public? The answer was not yes. Watch this site.

Inner City Press also asked Starr if there is any update on his commitment to ensure an investigation of the murder of UN Security officer Louis Maxwell by Afghan National forces in Kabul.  "No," Starr said.  For shame.

(c) MRLee
UN's Bongi and Diplomatic Mail bags: Erdogan not shown

From the UN's January 26 transcript of its noon briefing, at which Inner City Press asked about the drugs after already publishing its first story:

Inner City Press: I have heard now from multiple sources within Security and elsewhere that a suspicious package containing cocaine was found in the UN scanner recently and was… the host country was called. They are saying that it was up to 40 pounds of cocaine, and people have asked me within Security, why wasn’t the FBI called? Why wasn’t the package actually picked up so they could find out who was getting it? I’d like to know if either now or as soon as possible today, can you, will you confirm this find of cocaine in the scanner and why were… why was only the NYPD apparently called and what’s OIOS doing about the possibility of drug trafficking inside the United Nations?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Well, first of all, I will need to come back to you with some more details. But the most important thing here is that this was not connected to the United Nations, and that’s why the host Government, the city authorities in the shape of the NYPD were brought in to assist and they have taken over. Once I have a few more details, I will let you know.

Inner City Press: But just, and thanks again, I appreciate that, it just… I am just wondering because it is said that it was found inside the UN in a diplomatic pouch by the UN scanners, so how is the UN not…?

Spokesperson: Because it was not a diplomatic pouch. That I can say categorically, it was not a diplomatic pouch.

Inner City Press: But how did it get into the UN?

Spokesperson: Matthew, I said I am going to get, give you more details, and you can play 20 questions with me now or you can let me get some details for you later. Okay?

[The Spokesperson later issued the following note to correspondents:

Last week, two suspicious mail bags were intercepted by the Security and Safety Service at United Nations Headquarters in New York. Neither the United Nations nor anyone located in the United Nations was the intended recipient of this delivery and the bags were not UN bags, diplomatic or other.

The relevant host country authorities — the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) — were notified about the discovery of the suspicious bags and the material handed over to their custody. The United States Mission to the United Nations was also kept informed.

As the host country authorities are investigating, we would refer you to the DEA or NYPD for any further details.]

Inner City Press: No, I mean, exactly, just what, a detailed explanation of how it came in and who, to whom it was addressed, things like that.

Spokesperson: Yeah.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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