San Clemente, Calif. - Saturday, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested two suspected smugglers in two separate incidents seizing more than 110 pounds of cocaine at the Interstate 5 checkpoint.
San Diego Sector's Acting Chief Richard Barlow said of the seizures, "These are important and significant seizures. Not only does this contribute to our law enforcement efforts to disrupt, dismantle and ultimately defeat organized drug smuggling organizations, this also keeps these dangerous drugs off our streets and makes our communities safer."
The first seizure took place at about 9:30 a.m., when Border Patrol agents at the checkpoint stopped a 1991 Toyota Tercel driven by an 18-year-old male U.S. citizen. After questioning, the driver was sent to secondary inspection for further evaluation. A Border Patrol canine team checked the vehicle and alerted agents to the presence of contraband. Agents noticed the vehicle's gas tank had been tampered with and further examination revealed a secret compartment inside the tank which held 15 bundles of cocaine. The total weight of the cocaine is 39.2 pounds with an estimated street value of $392,000.
The second seizure took place at about 7:15 p.m., after a Ford F250 was stopped at the checkpoint. The driver, a 44-year-old male Mexican national, was referred to secondary inspection where a Border Patrol canine team alerted on the vehicle. The alert prompted agents to perform a more thorough search resulting in the discovery of 28 bundles of cocaine stuffed inside a spare tire. The total weight of the cocaine is 71.3 pounds with an estimated street value of $713,000.
Both suspects were arrested and turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration along with the cocaine.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.