What border crisis? Nearly three tons of cocaine seized that was bound for New York City

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MANHATTAN, NY –On September 1st, the Mexico’s Secretaria de Marina, the Mexican Navy, intercepted a boat filled with cocaine that was bound for New York.  The boat was stopped by Mexican authorities off of the Mexican State of Quintana Roo.

DEA Merida Resident Office and Mexico's Secretaria de Marina seize over 3 tons of cocaine from boat off the coast of Quintana RooPhotos courtesy of the DEA

In speaking of the major cocaine bust and the partnerships the law enforcement community has with the Mexican authorities, DEA Special Agent in Charge Raymond Donovan spoke of the seizure, saying:

“Law enforcement thwarted cartel plans to saturate the American drug market with cocaine by intercepting over three tons of cocaine heading towards American towns. 

This international enforcement operation has saved lives and reemphasized law enforcement’s commitment to keeping America safe from drug trafficking, drug abuse, and violent crime.”

2,960 Kilograms of cocaine seized

The Acting Manhattan US Attorney, Audrey Strauss said:

“As alleged, these defendants are responsible for the attempted importation of more than three tons of cocaine into the United States.  Thanks to the work of the DEA and the Mexican Navy, the shipment was interdicted and the defendants are in custody and facing federal prosecution.”

Homeland Security New York Special Agent in Charge, Peter Fitzhugh added:

“Cartels continue to operate with no regard for laws or human life, trafficking tons of deadly narcotics across the border and using bribery and intimidation to further their reach with government officials.  With HIS’s continued partnership with DEA’s Strike Force, three more alleged drug trafficking defendants will now face justice and three tons of cocaine will not reach our communities.”

This drug interception and the arrest of three people occurred when the Mexican Navy spotted and tracked a boat that was going through the Caribbean Sea headed toward the Mexican city of Chetumal and the village of Mahaual.  For whatever reason, this boat acted in a manner which brought suspicion and the Mexican authorities decided to investigate.

The Mexican Navy caught up to the vessel which was 85 nautical miles off of the coast of Quintana Roo.  When they caught the boat, they boarded and searched it, finding approximately 2,960 kilograms of cocaine. 

As a result of the drug seizure, the Mexican authorities took the three occupants into custody which were later turned over to US federal law enforcement.

The occupants of the boat, Raymundo Montoya-Lopez, Abraham Alfonso Garcia-Montoya, and Felizardo Diaz-Hernandez, were all turned over to federal authorities in the United States for prosecution. 

All three people are from Sinaloa, Mexico and have been charged with conspiring to import cocaine into the United States.  This charge carries a minimum sentence of 10 years with a maximum of life if they are convicted.

New York State Police Superintendent Keith Corlett said of the seizure and arrest:

“The combined efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement, along with authorities in Mexico, have put this operation out of business and disrupted the transport of thousands of kilos of cocaine to our streets.  This case continues our commitment and partnership to identify, arrest, and prosecute anyone who tries to sell these dangerous drugs in our communities.”

New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea also weighed in, saying:

“This case is another illustration of our joint, ongoing responsibilities in eradicating international drug trafficking.  Our NYPD officers, working with our law enforcement partners and federal prosecutors, follow the facts anywhere in the world to achieve justice, in this case interdicting nearly three tons of cocaine off the coast of Mexico.”

Of course, this is yet another example of dangerous drugs coming from Mexico and, in at least this case, attempted to be brought into the United States.  This is something that President Trump has spoken about on many occasions and the democratic leaders all say this is not happening. 

BUFFALO, NY – On August 10th, federal agents with the US Customs and Border Protection selected a shipment which was supposed to be seven skids of lighting for additional examination. Upon further inspection, agents discovered almost two tons of marijuana at the Peace Bridge.

While performing the  inspection, they located 14 wooden pallets which contained numerous cardboard boxes.  Inside of the boxes were vacuum-sealed packages of marijuana. Agents weighed the drug which showed it to be a total of 3,836 pounds.  Federal agents estimated the street value of the drug to be more than $8 million dollars. 

Commercial wooden pallets containing marijuana.
Courtesy of CBP.gov

Jennifer De La O, the Port Director, commented on the seizure:

“These CBP Officers have remained vigilant and engaged as travel restrictions at the border continue.  They have never let their guard down and their discovery of another large marijuana seizure exemplifies their dedication to the CBP mission.” 

The U.S Customs and Border Protection reports that they have seen numerous drug seizures along the border with Canada, and specifically in the Buffalo field office. They report from October 1st, 2019, through August 10th, 2020, they have seized more than 1,500 narcotics weighing over 27,000 pounds.

This drug bust was not the largest reported out of the Buffalo field office this year. On June 25th, agents at the Peace Bridge seized 9,472 pounds of marijuana that was located in a commercial shipment that was supposed to contain storage containers.

Vacuum-sealed packages of marijuana.
Courtesy of CBP.gov

CBP reported that a 26-year-old male who is a citizen of India and a Canadian Permanent Resident, was driving a commercial vehicle pulling a tractor trailer.

The driver declared that he was hauling shipping containers.  An inspection scan was performed on the truck, and the CBP officers noticed some oddities within the storage bins. After a tailgate exam, they discovered vacuumed packages which appeared to be marijuana. 

In completing a manual search of the vehicle and contents, they discovered 55 wooden pallet boxes that held marijuana in them.  The total weight of the seizure was 9,482 pounds, with an estimated street value of $20 million dollars. CBP notes that this is the second largest drug seizure recorded on the northern border and ranks at 23rd for the entire United States.

Port director Jennifer De La O commented once again:

“This was an excellent job by our officers from start to finish. From recognizing a shipment that needed further screening, to the identification of the anomaly during the secondary scan, to the coordination with our partners at Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) our officers are committed to intercepting these illicit drugs from being smuggled in.” 

The driver, who was not identified, was referred for federal prosecution which was accepted by the US Attorney’s Office.  The man was charged with possessing with the intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, and importation of marijuana into the United States. 

U.S. Attorney Kennedy stated:

“For the third time in as many weeks, the diligence of US Customs and Border Protection Officers has resulted in the seizure of literally tons of illegal controlled substance destined for our country.”

He added:

“In just three weeks, CBP officers have prevented thousands of pounds of illicit drugs, valued at nearly $30,000,000, from entering our country.  We will remain vigilant to protect our border from those who seek to profit from the importation of these illegal substances, as they not only fuel the violent drug trafficking organizations who distribute them but jeopardize the health and well-being of those, including minors, who use them.  Because the health, safety, and security of every American matters, do too do our borders.”

Kevin Kelly, the HSI Special Agent in Charge said:

“The resurgence of large-scale illicit marijuana seizures is alarming and brazen given the public health crisis.  HSI and CBP will always work together to thwart and deter those criminal organizations that attempt to exploit our borders.”

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Here’s another article on recent drug interceptions:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at the ports of entry in San Diego and Imperial Valley counties intercepted more than $61 million worth of narcotics over the weekend of August 7th.

The seizure included 668 pounds of methamphetamine hidden in a cactus shipment, almost 15,000 pounds of marijuana in what was supposed to be a shipment of limes, and a spare tire with fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine hidden inside, according to a press release.

Pete Flores, Director of Field Operations for CBP in San Diego said in a statement:

“International drug trafficking organizations will use whatever means they can think of to try and move their illicit shipments into the U.S.,”

He continued:

“CBP officers dedicate their careers to protecting our country by securing the border. For them, these unusual seizures are all in a day’s work.”

On Aug. 7, at about 8 a.m., a tractor-trailer arrived at the Otay Mesa cargo facility with a shipment manifested as cactus. CBP officers referred the shipment to be unloaded at the dock for an intensive inspection, according to the press release:

“A CBP canine team screened the shipment, and the dog alerted to a pallet of cactus. CBP officers searched inside the crates of cactus pads (which are often used in nopales, or prickly pear, dishes and drinks) and found packages, wrapped with green tape, hidden inside among the pads.”

 

“In total, officers found 590 packages, containing about 668 pounds of methamphetamine. The narcotics have an estimated street value of over $1.5 million.”

A few hours later, CBP officers sent another tractor-trailer to the dock for further inspection at 6:30 p.m., after discovering anomalies during a scan by an X-ray imaging system:

“CBP officers opened the boxes and found large, tape-wrapped packages inside the many boxes manifested as limes. Officers found 622 large, tape-wrapped packages inside the boxes, containing 14,880 pounds of marijuana. The narcotics have an estimated street value of almost $60 million.”

On Aug. 9, another interception was made at 1 p.m. when a 35-year-old male driving a white Ford F-150 arrived at the Calexico port of entry:

“The CBP officer referred the car and driver aside for further inspection. A CBP officer screened the vehicle with the X-ray imaging system and noticed anomalies with the spare tire. A CBP canine team also screened the vehicle, and the canine alerted to the same area.

“CBP officers cut open the spare tire; inside they found one package of fentanyl with a weight of 2.43 pounds, one package of heroin with a weight of 2.56 pounds, and 41 packages of methamphetamine with a weight of 67.20 pounds. The narcotics have an estimated street value of about $125,000. The driver was taken into custody and turned over to HSI for further disposition.”

In all cases, the conveyances were seized.

Earlier this month, we reported that the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol seized almost $1 million, which was smuggled in a car along the Mexico/California border.

Agents from the U.S. Customs and Border patrol were working the area of the Mexico/California border on Aug. 5, when they stopped a vehicle headed south on Interstate 15 in Escondido. 

During the traffic stop, a police K-9 conducted a drug sniff of the vehicle and found almost $1 million dollars in U.S. currency during a search of the vehicle.

Agents conducted the traffic stop near the border of Mexico, and came into contact with a Mexican national. Agents spoke to the man to determine if he was legally allowed to be in the country, while they had a police K-9 conduct a sniff of the vehicle.

The K-9 indicated the presence of the odor of drugs coming from within the vehicle so a manual search was then performed. During the search of the Volkswagen Touareg, agents found 65 plastic wrapped bundles of U.S. cash. 

The count of the money revealed that there was $967,460 concealed in the gas tank of the vehicle.

The money and vehicle were seized by the agents, and the driver was arrested and turned over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations. 

The investigation into the origins of the cash continues, but it is suspected that it was from an illegal smuggling operation.

 

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