EL PASO, TEXAS—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at the El Paso port of entry seized 589 pounds of marijuana Tuesday. The drugs were encased in a shipment of molded concrete stepping stones.
"This is an unusual smuggling attempt however the layers of enforcement we employ at our inspectional facilities successfully located and stopped this shipment," said CBP El Paso Port Director Hector Mancha.
The seizure was made at approximately 4:00 p.m. Tuesday when a flatbed pick-up truck hauling a load of concrete stepping stones arrived at the Bridge of the Americas commercial cargo lot. CBP officers scanned the vehicle with a non-intrusive x-ray system and noted an anomaly in the appearance of the decorative stones. CBP drug sniffing dog "Lass" searched the conveyance and alerted to the presence of drugs. CBP officers broke apart one of the suspect stones and found that it contained bundles of marijuana. CBP officers removed 527 marijuana-filled bundles from the shipment.
The case was turned over to U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) HSI special agents for investigation. HSI agents arrested three people in connection with this failed smuggling attempt.
"The strong partnership and coordinated efforts between HSI special agents and CBP officers resulted in not only preventing nearly 600 pounds of marijuana from hitting our streets, but arresting three suspected drug traffickers and putting them out of commission," Dennis A. Ulrich, acting special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), said.
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 routinely 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.