NOGALES, ARIZ.—A Mexican national with “trusted-traveler” status, along with another Mexican national, was arrested yesterday for attempting to smuggle nearly $548,000 worth of methamphetamine into the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Port of Nogales arrested and revoked the Secure Electronic Network for Traveler’s Rapid Inspection membership of Guadalupe Loaiza-Bastidas, 49, after he and the 31-year-old driver of his vehicle were found to be carrying more than 35 pounds of methamphetamine concealed in the rear inside panels of Loaiza’s Toyota van.
SENTRI allows members access to a dedicated commuter lane that expedites the inspection process for low-risk travelers. Qualification for the program requires an extensive background check and in-person interview.
“SENTRI members are treated with a higher level of trust, but are not exempt from inspection,” said Port Director Guadalupe Ramirez. “Violations such as drug smuggling will not be tolerated. Those attempting to exploit the program will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, regardless of whether they enter through SENTRI lanes or other crossing lanes.”
The vehicle and drugs are being processed for seizure. Loaiza was referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, while the driver was released without further incident.
Individuals arrested may be charged by complaint, the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity, which raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent unless and until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
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.