US Customs and Border Patrol breaks open boulders to find massive drug stash being smuggled into America

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TECATE, CA – For years, drug traffickers have worked very hard at trying to disguise their drugs from members of law enforcement and the military. 

People have used body suits, placed drugs in condoms and smuggled them in areas where the sun doesn’t shine. They have also been known to use coffee grounds in an attempt to disguise the odor from police canines. 

Most recently, smugglers are cementing their drugs in boulders.

Officers searched the truck, tractor-trailer, and cargo containing various rocks, and ultimately had to break open the large quartz boulders that were part of the shipment.
Compliments of CBP.

US Customs and Border Protection officers recently announced that they made quite the bust in Tecate, California.  They announced finding 229 packages of cocaine and methamphetamine hidden inside boulders at the Tecate cargo crossing.

drugs smuggled border
Compliments of CBP.

Jose Haro, the officer in charge of the Tecate Port of Entry said:

“Hard to believe, but this isn’t the first time CBP officers in California have had to actually break open rocks or other items to get at the narcotics that drug trafficking organizations have hidden inside.

“Our officers are well-grained to notice discrepancies to stop drug shipments like this from making their way into our communities.”

Customs and Border Protection state that on September 14th, before 11am, a truck driver had arrived at the Tecate border crossing with a shipment that was listed as multiple tons of beach pebbles and stones. 

For whatever reason, CBP decided the truck and its contents, needed a second look, and it was referred to the dock.

When the driver and shipment were at the dock, the Customs and Border Protection officer noticed that there were many discrepancies with the shipment and requested a police canine to sniff the vehicle for the odor of drugs. 

The canine team was deployed which positively indicated to the presence of the odor of drugs coming from within the truck.

Based on the K9 indication, officers began a manual search of the truck, trailer, and the cargo.  Officers noticed that there were various rocks inside and broke open one of the large quartz boulders to check inside. 

Once they broke the boulder, they located several packages wrapped in electrical tape that had been cemented inside the stones.

After all of the boulders were broken open officers located 229 drug packages that were inside.  Of those, 104 contained methamphetamine while 125 contained cocaine. 

CBP advised that the packages contained approximately 337 pounds of methamphetamine and 223 pounds of cocaine. These drugs have an estimated street value of nearly $3.9 million dollars.

The truck and cargo were seized while the driver was arrested for the drug possession.  He or she will face a federal judge to determine what occurs after the arrest.

Another report from CBP shows how drug traffickers in Memphis, Tennessee are also getting creative in the drug shipments.  CBP reported finding fentanyl in picture frames, methamphetamines in a turntable as well as the linings of dresses.

On August 28th, agents in Memphis reported receiving a shipment of dresses from Mexico.  Upon inspection, officers noted that anomalies were present in the lining of the dresses. 

Officers tested the lining and found out that someone had sewn crystalline substance into the lining of the dresses.  Further testing confirmed that the substance was methamphetamine.

meth in dresses
Compliments of CBP.

Another shipment on the day allegedly came from Australia.  The item was listed as a vintage turntable but officers noted that the item seemed to be to heavy for that type of an object.

Officers inspected the turntable and noticed that it had a fresh coat of paint on it.  A police canine was brought in that indicated to the odor of drugs coming from the item.  Upon inspection, they located over 10 pounds of methamphetamine.

Three days after those items were received, CBP received a shipment from Mexico which contained a picture frame.  Officers did not believe the frame looked right and performed a closer inspection.

picture frame
Compliments of CBP.

The inspection located two plastic baggies that were inside the frame which contained bluish green pills.  Tests were conducted on the pills which showed they were a quarter pound of fentanyl. 

Michael Neipert, the CBP Area Port of Memphis Director said:

“Smugglers are always trying to find innovative ways to fool us, but Memphis CBP officers are highly trained at detecting contraband in all forms of concealment.  What may be out of the ordinary to some is just another ordinary day for us.”

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Here’s another recent article on the crisis at the border brought to you by Law Enforcement Today.

 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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