California CBP Officers Seize Narcotics Worth More Than $3.8 Million and Apprehend Homicide Suspect
SAN DIEGO—U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry along the California/Mexico border over the weekend seized approximately 965 pounds of narcotics valued at more than $3.8 million and apprehended a man wanted for homicide.
CBP officers at the six land ports of entry intercepted 23 smuggling attempts involving marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. The drugs were hidden in various areas of the vehicles such as in the gas tank, in the back rest, quarter panels and the dashboard.
Several incidents are highlighted below.
On Friday, March 22, at about 4 a.m., at the Otay Mesa passenger port of entry, a CBP officer encountered a 27-year-old male U.S. citizen who entered the port driving a 2001 Nissan Xterra. The officer referred the vehicle and driver for a more in-depth inspection.
Officers ran the vehicle through the port's imaging system, which revealed anomalies with the tires. The officers searched the vehicle and found 24 cellophane wrapped packages of marijuana hidden in all four tires. Total weight of the marijuana was 141 pounds with a street value of approximately $64,000.
Also on Friday at the Calexico downtown port of entry, CBP officers seized three pounds of methamphetamine from an 18-year-old male U.S. citizen.
The seizure occurred at about 10:30 a.m. when a canine team conducting inspections of travelers in the pedestrian area alerted to a man as he waited in line to be inspected. CBP officers then escorted the subject to the secondary inspection area for further examination.
During the examination, officers removed a package from the traveler's back. The package tested positive for methamphetamine and had a street value of approximately $109,000.
On Saturday, at about 11:45 p.m., at the San Ysidro port of entry, a 19-year-old male U.S. citizen driving 2000 Dodge Caravan drove up to a CBP officer's booth for inspection. The officer noticed the driver was nervous and sent him for a more intensive investigation.
During the inspection, CBP officers utilized a detector dog who alerted to the front bumper of the vehicle. Officers searched the area and discovered 11 pounds of liquid methamphetamine within the washer fluid compartment. The methamphetamine had a street value of about $220,000.
In all three incidents, the drivers were transported to local jail facilities where they await arraignment.
CBP seized the narcotics and vehicles.
On Sunday, March 24, CBP officers working at the Calexico east port of entry detained a man wanted for homicide by the California Highway Patrol in Riverside, California.
Pablo Gutierrrez Ceja, a 38-year old Mexican citizen who resides in Los Angeles, California, was detained at about 6:00 p.m. after he entered the port in a vehicle. A CBP officer checked the man's name against law enforcement databases, alerting him to the outstanding warrant for homicide.
CBP officers utilized the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) to confirm Gutierrez Ceja's identity and warrant. Gutierrez Ceja was turned over to the custody of the California Highway Patrol and transported to the Imperial County Jail for further disposition.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations is responsible for securing our borders at the ports of entry. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers' primary mission is anti-terrorism; screening all people, vehicles, and goods entering the United States, while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel into and out of the United States. Our mission also includes carrying out traditional border-related responsibilities, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration and trade laws, protecting our nation's food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases.
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.