U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and Border Patrol agents seized 169 pounds of methamphetamine, 90 pounds of heroin, 11 pounds of fentanyl, and 29 pounds of cocaine during the past week at five separate vehicle inspection checkpoints in California and Arizona.
The first seizure occurred on October 25, at approximately 12:20 p.m. when El Centro Sector Border Patrol agents working the inland checkpoint on Highway 111 contacted an 18-year-old male driving a Dodge Durango. Agents referred the driver for a secondary inspection after a K-9 drug detection dog alerted to an odor it is trained to detect coming from the vehicle, according to information obtained from CBP officials. During a subsequent search, officers discovered 87 packages concealed within the rear quarter panels of the truck. The packets contained 58.8 pounds of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $111,720. Agents turned the driver, identified as a U.S. citizen, over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The next seizures occurred during the morning hours of October 28 when CBP officers working the DeConcini Crossing in Nogales contacted a 42-year-old female, a U.S. citizen from Oracle, Arizona driving a Nissan sedan. Officers referred the driver along with her 40-year-old female driver, who was determined to be a Mexican national, for a secondary inspection. Officers deployed a CBP K-9 drug detection dog that alerted to the vehicle. A search led to the discovery of 50 packages concealed within the car containing 54 pounds of methamphetamine. Officials estimated the value of the drugs to be approximately $149,000. Both the driver and passenger were arrested and turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents.
Later in the day, CBP officers working the Port of Douglas border crossing contacted a 47-year-old male from Douglas, Arizona. Officers referred him for a secondary inspection and discovered three packages containing over nine pounds of cocaine concealed within the rear seats of the Kia sedan. Officials estimated the cocaine to be worth approximately $123,000, according to investigators.
That same afternoon, CBP officers working the DeConcini Crossing contacted a 30-year-old female driving a Chevy SUV and her 26-year-old male passenger. Officers referred both the driver and passenger, residents of Mesa, Arizona, for a secondary inspection. A CBP K-9 drug detection dog alerted to the vehicle leading to the discovery of more than 70 packages later determined to contain more than 90 pounds of heroin The packages are valued at $1.3 million. Officers also found the packages contained more than 11 pounds of fentanyl worth an estimated $122,000, two pounds of methamphetamine worth approximately $2,000, and 20 pounds of cocaine worth $272,000. The officers turned the driver and occupant over to investigative personnel of the HSI.
The last seizure took place on Wednesday when Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents assigned to Wellton Station’s immigration checkpoint on I-8 contacted the driver of a 2005 Honday Odyssey at approximately 1:20 p.m. CBP officers referred the driver for a secondary inspection after a K-9 drug detection dog alerted to the car. CBP officers located 55 pounds of methamphetamine valued at $126,000. During questioning, agents determined that the methamphetamine was heading towards Phoenix, and investigators determined that the seized cargo would make up at least 100,000 individual dosages of methamphetamine. The driver, a 32-year-old female, and a 17-year-old female passenger, both U.S. citizens from San Luis, Arizona, were arrested and turned over to federal investigative personnel.
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce completed work assignments in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year tour in Monterrey, Mexico, for the U.S. Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program.