Cross border drug smugglers took it to the mattresses in an attempt to conceal 15 tons of marijuana in what officials say is the second largest narcotics smuggling attempt caught at any border crossing nationwide and the largest ever for the Otay Mesa cargo port of entry in California.
Thursday evening, officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) noticed something amiss in the x-ray examination of what was billed as a cargo shipment of “mattress and cushions.” That anomaly led officers to refer the shipment for further inspection, a CBP release conveyed.
It didn’t take more than opening the rear cargo door of the truck to discover, not a truckload of mattresses, but 15 tons of “plastic-wrapped packages stacked from floor to ceiling inside the trailer.” Just a few mattresses were stacked along one wall of the trailer.
Street value of the drugs was estimated at $18.96 million. The 31,598 pounds of marijuana was found in the truck wrapped in 1,296 packages.
Driving the truck was a 46-year-old male Mexican citizen possessing a valid border crossing card. CBP officers turned the man over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations agents.
The driver’s border crossing card was cancelled and he was booked into the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the CBP release detailed. The truck trailer, cargo, and narcotics were confiscated.
“I am extremely proud of the work my officers do,” Otay Mesa Cargo Port Director Rosa Hernandez said. “Officers never give up their enforcement posture and demonstrate each and every day that they remain guardians of our nation.”
The largest CBP officer narcotics seizure at a U.S. border on record occurred in 2013, just over 100 miles from Otay Mesa, at the Calexico port of entry, according to the CBP release. It involved 35,265 pounds of marijuana.
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