EL PASO, TEXAS—U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations officers working at the El Paso port of entry seized 284 pounds of marijuana on the fourth of July in two incidents. The estimated street value of the seized contraband is $227,200.
"CBP officers were on guard and vigilant during the July 4 holiday and as a result two large marijuana loads were stopped at the border," said Hector Mancha, CBP El Paso Port Director. "CBP officers work hard 24/7 to keep this nation safe."
The larger of the two seizures occurred at approximately 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when a 1995 Chevrolet Cheyenne pickup entered the Bridge of the Americas international crossing from Mexico. CBP officers noticed discrepancies in the appearance of the truck and initiated a thorough exam. A "Buster" density meter scan of the spare tire displayed high readings consistent with hidden contraband. CBP drug sniffing dog "Boomer" alerted to the vehicle. CBP officers scanned the vehicle with the Z-Portal x-ray system and spotted anomalies in the fuel tank. CBP officers removed 120 marijuana-filled bundles from the spare tires and side walls of the pick up. The drugs weighed 188 pounds.
CBP officers took custody of the driver of the car, 37-year-old Juan Jorge Lechuga Valadez of Torreon, Mexico. He was turned over to and arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI special agents to face federal charges in connection with the failed smuggling attempt. He is currently being detained without bond at the El Paso County Jail.
The smaller seizure took place at approximately 11:30 a.m. when a 2003 Nissan Altima entered the Bridge of the Americas international crossing from Mexico. CBP officers selected the vehicle for a secondary exam with the Z-Portal x-ray system and spotted anomalies in the vehicle. CBP drug sniffing dog "Anna" searched the car and alerted to the presence of drugs. CBP officers removed 100 marijuana-filled bundles from the dashboard and rear doors of the vehicle. The drugs weighed 96 pounds.
No arrest was made in this case. The investigation is continuing.
While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.
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.