Three Arrested for Allegedly Trafficking $4.3 Million in Drugs Across Border

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
February 26, 2019US News
Three Arrested for Allegedly Trafficking $4.3 Million in Drugs Across Border
A Border Patrol truck sits next to the fence at the U.S.–Mexico border in Nogales, Ariz., on May 23, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Customs and Border Protection officers seized more than 349 pounds of hard drugs that were being trafficked from Mexico, officials said.

The hard drugs included heroin, cocaine, and what authorities believe was fentanyl, a deadly drug that has become increasingly common in recent years.

The seizure took place in three separate incidents, starting on Feb. 23 at the Port of Nogales in Tuscon, Arizona. In the first incident on Saturday morning, officers seized hard drugs from a vehicle following detection by a drug-sniffing dog.

Officers found nearly 21 pounds of heroin, worth nearly $560,000 on the street, along with 103 pounds of cocaine, worth nearly $2.5 million. Officers also found 116 pounds of methamphetamine, worth an estimated $347,000, and 1.5 pounds of suspected fentanyl, worth nearly $20,000.

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More than 349 pounds of hard drugs that were being trafficked from Mexico to the United States were seized on Feb. 23, 2019. The drugs had an estimated street value of nearly $4.3 million. (Customs and Border Protection)

A few hours later, a Border Protection canine detected drugs in a Honda sedan crossing into the United States from Mexico. The driver, a 21-year-old Phoenix man, was questioned before officers found two packages of drugs, later identified as approximately 15 pounds of meth, from the vehicle’s rear tires.

Later that day, officers believed a 27-year-old Mexican woman driving a Ford sedan was inspected by a canine, which detected the presence of drugs. Officers found 71 packages of hard drugs, including more than 18 pounds of cocaine, worth more than $434,000.

Officers also found meth, heroin, and suspected fentanyl pills.

The drugs and vehicles were seized and the suspected drug traffickers were arrested and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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Officers found a total of $2.3 million worth of cocaine and marijuana in Texas on Feb. 25, 2019. (Customs and Border Protection)

Drugs Seized at Border

Drug seizures at the border take place every day. At least two seizures took place on Feb. 25.

On Monday, officers found nearly 100 pounds of marijuana in the vehicle of a 44-year-old permanent resident at the Port of Naco.

The same day, in Texas, officers stationed in Laredo found a total of $2.3 million worth of cocaine and marijuana. The cocaine was found in a tractor-trailer while the marijuana was found in an international trailer among a shipment of bentonite clay.

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Marijuana was hidden among a commercial shipment of avocados. (Customs and Border Protection)

On Tuesday, Border Protection officers said they found 1.5 tons of marijuana in Pharr, Texas across two separate incidents in the past week.

“Marijuana is being intercepted in large quantities in this region both at and in between the ports of entry,” said Port Director David Gonzalez in a statement. ”CBP officers at our port and throughout the Laredo Field Office are encountering and seizing colossal loads of marijuana.”

The drugs were found in an empty tractor-trailer and in a commercial shipment of fresh avocados.

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Arizona DEA Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman at his office in Phoenix, Ariz., on May 24, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Smuggling Methods

The Tucson Sector in Arizona is one of the primary marijuana trafficking routes in the country for two different reasons, Doug Coleman, special agent in charge of the Arizona Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), previously told The Epoch Times.

First, a lot of the terrain is remote, unpatrolled, and often unfenced, so marijuana can be more easily backpacked in. And second, the commercial port of entry in the small border town of Nogales is the entry point for about 70 percent of the winter produce trucked into the United States.

“The cartel has exploited that. It’s not unusual for us to see 30,000 pounds of lettuce and 10,000 pounds of weed in the middle of it,” Coleman said

“We can’t possibly stop all those trucks as they are coming across because there are thousands of them … so it’s very hit-and-miss on what we can get and what we can’t get through that particular point of entry.”

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