400 Pounds of Meth Smuggled Inside Fake Rocks, Say Feds

Border Patrol agents inspect cars at immigration checkpoint. (AP File Photo)
AP File Photo

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized 395 pounds of methamphetamine during a commercial vehicle inspection last Friday in California. The alleged seizures resulted in the arrest of a Mexican national on drug smuggling charges.

On Friday at approximately 6:15 pm, officers assigned to the Calexico East commercial facility in the El Centro Sector contacted a male driver in Freightliner tractor towing a trailer containing a shipment of decorative rocks. Officers referred the male, identified as a 66-year-old Mexican citizen, to a secondary inspection after a K-9 alerted to an odor, according to federal officials. Upon reviewing the X-ray scans, agents noted anomalies inside hollow spaces within the artificial rocks. Officers offloaded the cargo and discovered 120 individually wrapped packages containing methamphetamine.

An inventory yielded a total weight of 395 pounds with an estimated street value of $1.1 million. The driver was arrested and transported to the Imperial County Jail where he currently awaits arraignment for drug smuggling charges as determined by investigative agents of the Homeland Security Investigations. The tractor-trailer was also seized.

“The port’s roving canine team was a major factor in bringing down this narcotic smuggling attempt,” Area Port Director David Salazar noted in a prepared statement. “Thorough examinations of commercial goods entering U.S. commerce are vital to ensuring safe and secure international trade.”

Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.) You can follow him on Twitter. He can be reached at robertrarce@gmail.com

Editor’s note: this story was updated to clarify that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers–not Border Patrol agents–were responsible for the reported discovery of methamphetamine.

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