SANTA TERESA, N.M. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Santa Teresa port of entry seized 125 pounds of marijuana Saturday. The estimated street value of the seized contraband is $100,000.
“The driver of the van involved in this smuggling case was traveling with her teen children,” said Ray Provencio, CBP Santa Teresa Port Director. “Smugglers will sometimes use family members as props in an effort to deflect suspicion. Unfortunately this method has become common.”
The seizure was made just before 9 a.m. Saturday after a 2003 Chrysler van entered the port from Mexico. A CBP officer at the primary inspection booth selected the vehicle for a secondary exam. During the search a CBP officer discovered bundles concealed in a side panel of the van. CBP officers scanned the vehicle with an x-ray system and spotted anomalies consistent with hidden contraband. CBP officers continued their search and removed 111 marijuana-filled bundles from the vehicle.
CBP officers arrested the driver of the truck, 40-year-old Faustina Laura Barriga Hernandez of Chihuahua City, Chihuahua, Mexico. She was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI agents to face charges associated with the failed smuggling attempt. The driver’s 19-year-old son, 13-year-old daughter, and a third unrelated person were released.
While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.