U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents seized more than 420 pounds of methamphetamine and fentanyl in three separate incidents in Southern California.
CBP officers assigned to the Otay Mesa cargo port of entry on July 23 observed a commercial tractor-trailer arriving from Mexico. During an initial inspection, CBP officers observed anomalies in the cab area of the tractor, according to information obtained from San Diego Sector CBP officials.
Officers conducted a physical search of the tractor’s sleeper compartment area and found two black duffle bags hidden under the sleeper. The bags contained 64 cellophane-wrapped packages, officials reported.
CBP officers found more than 300lbs of meth and fentanyl hidden in the sleeper compartment of a tractor-trailer Thursday at the Otay Mesa port of entry. Learn more via @CBPSanDiego: https://t.co/yZqAY7WNKT pic.twitter.com/QiQ3dMm5Ey
— CBP (@CBP) July 27, 2020
The report indicates that 59 of the packages contained methamphetamine — 286 pounds. The remaining five packages contained fentanyl — 26 pounds.
Officials did not provided an estimated value of the seized drugs. Officers seized the tractor-trailer and arrested the driver, a 36-year-old Mexican citizen with a U.S. B1/B2 border crossing card.
The officers booked the suspected drug smuggler into the Metropolitan Correctional Center and turned the case over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations special agents for further investigation. It is expected the alleged smuggler will face prosecution in the Southern District of California on drug smuggling charges.
CBP officials reminded the public that fentanyl “can be up to 50 times more potent than heroin, is extremely dangerous to law enforcement and anyone else who may come into contact with it. As a result, it represents an unusual hazard for law enforcement.”
“Even in the midst of a global pandemic, we continue to see attempts to move hard narcotics across the border and into U.S. communities,” Pete Flores, Director of Field Operations for CBP in San Diego, said in a written statement. “CBP officers at all of our nation’s legal border crossings remain on the job and vigilant during these unprecedented times.”
Later that day, San Diego Sector Border Patrol agents assigned to the Interstate 8 checkpoint located near Pine Valley, California, observed a 2006 Honda Accord approaching for inspection. During an initial interview, a K-9 alerted to the possible presence of drug or human cargo. The agents referred the driver a 22-year-old female U.S. citizen, to the secondary inspection station. A physical search of the Accord led to the discovery of 64 packages of methamphetamine hidden in the rear quarter panels and the gas tank, officials stated.
Agents seized the 74.47 pounds of meth and the vehicle. They turned the driver and the drugs over to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department for further investigation. The sheriff’s department issued a press release explaining why they assisted the U.S. Border Patrol with this investigation.
“It is protocol for the Sheriff’s Department to respond to border checkpoints to take custody of evidence and subjects who are suspected of felony state crimes not related to immigration, such as in this case,” Lieutenant Ricardo Lopez, San Diego Sheriff’s Department stated. California law prohibits state law enforcement officials from cooperating with Border Patrol on immigration-related matters.
A few hours later, Interstate 8 checkpoint agents observed a 2005 red Ford Mustang approaching for inspection. During the initial interview, a K-9 alerted to the possible presence of drugs hidden in the vehicle. The agents referred the driver to a secondary inspection station, officials reported.
A search of the vehicle led to the discovery of 39 packages of methamphetamine hidden in the gas tank of the Mustang.
Agents turned the man, a 19-year-old U.S. citizen, and the 32.9 pounds of meth over to the Drug Enforcement Administration for further investigation.
“Once again our agents have intercepted these dangerous drugs before they could reach the streets, poisoning our community,” Chief Patrol Agent Aaron M. Heitke said I am exceedingly proud of the dedication our agents exhibit every day protecting America.”