Tucson, Ariz. - Border Patrol agents assigned to the Tucson Sector, a component of the Joint Field Command-Arizona, recovered two stolen vehicles and seized more than 4,700 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $2.3 million yesterday.
Ajo Station's All-Terrain Vehicle Unit (ATV) discovered an abandoned vehicle, loaded with 1,934 pounds of marijuana, while responding to detection technology in the West Desert. Record checks revealed the vehicle was reported stolen out of Peoria. The vehicle was turned over to the Tohono O'odham Police Department (TOPD) while the marijuana, worth an estimated value of $967,460, was seized to be turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) at a later date.
Willcox Station agents attempted a traffic stop near Benson but the driver failed to yield. With assistance from the Pima County Sheriff's Department, the vehicle was stopped and a search of the vehicle revealed bundles of marijuana weighing 290 pounds, with an estimated value of $145,150, in the backseat. The driver, a 19-year-old U.S. citizen, was arrested and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office on federal drug charges. The vehicle and marijuana were seized for processing.
Ajo Station agents detected vehicle tracks traveling off-road in the West Desert which led them to an abandoned vehicle containing 78 bundles of marijuana. Record checks revealed the vehicle was reported stolen out of Glendale. The vehicle was turned over to the TOPD and the marijuana, weighing approximately 1,662 pounds with an estimated value of $831,180, was transported to the Ajo Station and will be turned over to the DEA.
In a separate incident, Ajo Station agents using a Mobile Surveillance System detected a group of drug smugglers east of the Lukeville port. ATV Unit agents responded to the location and apprehended five drug smugglers along with seizing approximately 828 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $414,390. The marijuana was transported to the Ajo Station for processing and the five drug smugglers are being held pending submittal for criminal prosecution.
Smuggling drugs and humans is a federal crime for which offenders will face stiff penalties. The likelihood of being detected by Border Patrol agents and the consequences of doing so are higher than ever before in Arizona. As a result, smugglers often choose to abandon their loads rather than risk apprehension and the associated penalties.
CBP announced the JFC-AZ in February 2011 as an organizational realignment that brings together the U.S. Border Patrol, Air and Marine, and Field Operations under a unified command structure. The JFC-AZ integrates CBP's border security, commercial enforcement, and trade facilitation missions to more effectively meet the unique challenges faced in Arizona.
Customs and Border Protection welcomes assistance from the community. Report suspicious activity to the Border Patrol by calling (1-877) 872-7435 toll free. All calls will be answered and remain anonymous.