U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Otay Mesa, California, seized a near-record 3,100 pounds of methamphetamine, fentanyl, and heroin at a commercial port of entry. The seizure is the second-largest seizure along the southwest border with Mexico in the agency’s history.
CBP officers assigned to a commercial port of entry in Otay Mesa on October 9 observed a tractor-trailer approaching for entry into the United States from Mexico. The driver, a Mexican citizen, presented documents indicating a load of medical supplies, according to information provided by CBP officials in San Diego.
The officers decided to refer the driver to a secondary inspection station for a “more intensive inspection.” Officers utilized a non-intrusive imaging system and noticed anomalies in the cargo area of the trailer.
Officers moved the rig to the dock and a K-9 team searched through the trailer. The K-9 alerted to an odor it is trained to detect coming from boxes.
CBP officials report the officers unloaded the cargo and conducted a physical inspection of the cargo and found many of the boxes contained packages of drugs.
“Officers offloaded the shipment and discovered 1,816 packages commingled with the medical supplies that primarily contained clear plastic pipette tips, spray bottles of surface decontaminate, and calibrated pipette tools (used for sampling and dispensing liquid),” CBP officials said in a written statement
As the search and cataloging continued, officers identified 3,014 pounds of methamphetamine, 64 pounds of heroin, 29 pounds of fentanyl powder, and nearly 37 pounds of fentanyl pills. Officials estimate the value of the shipment at $7.2 million.
“Smugglers will try every way possible to try and get their product across the border and because of the partnership between CBP, Homeland Security Investigations, and DEA, this significant seizure occurred and we stopped them,” said Anne Maricich, acting CBP director of field operations in San Diego, in a joint statement with the partner agencies. “I’m proud of the CBP officers’ dedication to our mission; they continue to stop dangerous drugs from entering our communities.”
The drug trafficking interdiction came about based on intelligence developed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
DEA Special Agent in Charge John W. Callery added, “This massive seizure is a testament of what law enforcement agencies can do when we combine forces – prevent over $7 million worth of deadly drugs from entering our country; thus saving countless lives from addiction and overdose deaths. DEA cherishes our great law enforcement partners in San Diego, especially those who work tirelessly to protect our nation’s borders. We will continue to work together to disrupt drug trafficking organizations at every opportunity we are given.”
The officers seized the drug load and arrested the 47-year-old Mexican man. Agents with HSI and DEA will continue the investigation and determine the charges to be filed in connection to the alleged drug trafficking incident.
“This significant seizure is a prime example of how a successful partnership between HSI, CBP, and DEA results in the disruption of transnational criminal organizations while protecting our country from dangerous illicit drugs,” said Juan Munoz, acting Special Agent in Charge of HSI in San Diego. “We will continue to work tirelessly to bring those responsible to justice.”