IMPERIAL VALLEY, Calif. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the local ports of entry over the weekend foiled three attempts to smuggle 29 pounds of cocaine hidden in two wooden rocking horses, 752 prescription pills concealed in clothing, and $382,749 in unreported U.S. currency that was bound for Mexico.
The first incident occurred at about 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 15, when a CBP officer encountered a 28-year-old male after he arrived at the Calexico downtown port of entry on foot. The officer noticed the man, a resident of Mexicali, Baja California, was transporting wooden rocking horses, and referred him for further inspection.
While utilizing the port’s imaging system, officers detected anomalies inside the wooden structures of the horses. The officers continued their search by drilling into the wood, ultimately discovering 10 packages hidden inside.
The packages field-tested positive as cocaine and yielded a total weight of more than 29 pounds, with an estimated street value of $377,000.
The second incident occurred at about 7 a.m. on Aug. 16, when CBP officers were conducting southbound inspections of travelers heading to Mexico through the Calexico downtown border crossing. Officers targeted a 2001 Honda Accord and referred the driver, a 39-year-old Peruvian citizen, and his vehicle for a more in-depth examination.
While searching the vehicle, officers utilized the port’s imaging system and detected anomalies within the Accord’s rear quarter panels. Following an intensive search, officers extracted a total of 15 packages containing $382,749 in U.S. currency from inside the panels.
In both cases, CBP seized the vehicles and narcotics.
The third incident occurred later on Aug 16, shortly after 2 p.m., when a 38-year-old male and his passenger, a 65-year-old female entered the Andrade port of entry driving a Volkswagen Passat sedan. A CBP officer referred the driver, passenger, and vehicle for a more in-depth inspection.
A search of the man’s clothing revealed 552 prescription pills, 79 Adivan, 158 Diazapam, 198 Tramadol, and 117 Xanax pills, in his pants pockets. Officers escorted the woman to a secure area where a search revealed 200 prescription pills, 80 Adivan and 120 Xanax pills, concealed in her bra.
Deputies with the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office arrested the man and the woman, both U.S. citizens and residents of Yucca Valley. The medications were seized and are valued at almost $2,700.
In all three instances, the suspects were transported to the Imperial County Jail to await criminal arraignment.
Failure to declare medications can result in penalties ranging from confiscation, monetary fines, and in some cases, arrest and prosecution.