More than 130 pounds of marijuana was seized on Wednesday morning when U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Laredo South Sector discovered a vehicle leaving a known smuggling area along the Rio Grande River. The driver led agents on a short chase and crashed back into the river in what is described as a “splashdown” event. Breitbart Texas has learned this is a new technique for smugglers in the Laredo sector.
Agents observed a grey Dodge Caravan leaving the riverbank area near Laredo, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection press statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. As they approached, the driver began making a series of suspicious turns through a local neighborhood. Agents determined this was an indication the driver might be smuggling drugs.
The vehicle moved back towards the river area, and the driver suddenly crashed the Dodge into the river. The driver and several other occupants swam across the river with some bundles of marijuana. Border Patrol agents recovered two bundles of marijuana weighing 139.1 pounds. The street value was estimated at more than $111,000.
The Border Patrol notified the Government of Mexico (GOM) about the situation, and they sent agents to the area. The GOM agents recovered three additional bundles of marijuana, but all of the vehicle’s occupants escaped capture.
“This is a tactic that has moved from the Rio Grande Valley Sector to Laredo recently,” said Border Patrol Agent Hector Garza, president of the National Border Patrol Council Local 2455, in an interview with Breitbart Texas. “Until recently, this tactic was rarely used in the Laredo Sector, but now we are seeing an increase in the number of splashdowns.”
“In these situations, the drivers have no regard for human life,” Garza explained. “These are very dangerous people who don’t care who they hurt. In this case, because it was a short chase through the neighborhood, no one was injured.”
“These discoveries are made because of the hard-working Border Patrol agents in our sector,” Garza concluded. “As arrests have been made of top cartel leaders, factions of the cartel have been becoming more violent. This increases the concern we have for agents’ safety.”
The Laredo Border Patrol Sector is part of the Joint Task Force West-South Texas Corridor, which leverages federal, state and local resources to combat transnational criminal organizations.
Garza said he has seen an increase in the numbers of Texas Department of Public Safety troopers in the region recently. “The more assets we have in the area, the more drugs and human smuggling cargo we can stop,” Garza said.
Bob Price is a senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.