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Border Patrol Tracking Skills Lead To Drug Smugglers In New Mexico

Release Date: 
October 3, 2014

SANTA TERESA, N.M. – U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested a group of drug smugglers sneaking through the desert early Tuesday morning while patrolling an area west of the Santa Teresa, New Mexico port of entry.

At 4:00 a.m., agents patrolling the U.S./Mexico international boundary noticed shoe prints of multiple subjects heading north.  The sector “All-Terrain Vehicles” unit was called in to help track the suspected smugglers and jumped ahead of the pursuing agent who was on foot conducting the search. The footprints led agents to four abandoned duffle bags, full of prepackaged bundles of marijuana that were buried in heavy desert brush. As the duffle bags were being prepared for transport back to the  Border Patrol station, the agents continued to follow the trail through the rugged terrain, which turned south back toward the border.  Three of the subjects were found hiding in desert brush at approximately 6:00 a.m.  The remaining two subjects were apprehended a few miles south of the first group. They were attempting to find their way back to Mexico through their initial entry point. 

The five subjects were identified as Juan Manuel Lara, 48, Jasiel Quinones-Vargas, 28, Marco Olivas-Terrazas, 21, Perfecto Antonio Cortez-Rutiaga, 29, and Juan Hernandez-Bustamante, 24, all citizens of Mexico and without U.S. immigration documents.  The bundles totaled 220.9 pounds of marijuana, with a street value of more than $176,000.  The subjects and the illegal narcotics were turned over to the DEA in Las Cruces, pending prosecution.

A day earlier, Border Patrol agents in Deming, New Mexico arrested a man driving a reported stolen vehicle.  At 12:40 a.m., Border Patrol agents saw a blue Kia sedan traveling north on New Mexico state route 146. The agents became suspicious and checked the license plate for more information on the vehicle.  Agents found out the plate did not match the vehicle description.  As agents activated their emergency lights to pull the vehicle over, the driver sped off and recklessly drove the sedan into the highway median. 

Once the subject, later identified as Jesse Evans Johnson, was in custody, a criminal data base search revealed an extensive criminal history and a stolen vehicle repot out of Globe, Arizona.

These incidents demonstrate how vigilance by U.S. Border Patrol agents is combating the furtherance of illicit drugs and activities into the United States, while keeping our communities safe.

Last modified: 
February 3, 2021