CBP Officers Intercept Inventive Smuggling Attempts at Imperial Valley Ports
IMPERIAL VALLEY, CALIF.—U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Imperial Valley ports of entry over the weekend intercepted $1,762,400 worth of cocaine, $316,000 worth of methamphetamine, and $296,010 in undeclared currency during four separate smuggling attempts.
The first incident occurred at about 10:00 a.m. on Friday, September 6th, when a CBP canine team at the Calexico East port of entry was screening vehicles as they waited in line for inspection. The team's detector dog alerted to a 2004 Ford Expedition and officers referred the vehicle and driver, a 37-year-old female U.S. citizen, for a more in-depth inspection.
During an intensive examination, officers discovered and removed 31 wrapped packages of methamphetamine concealed inside the vehicle's transfer case, a component of the transmission. The narcotics weighed more than 12 pounds with a street value of approximately $231,000.
Later in the day, at about 5:00 p.m., CBP officers were conducting southbound inspections of travelers heading to Mexico through the Andrade port of entry. Officers targeted a 2001 Chrysler Town and Country minivan and referred the 56-year-old driver and his passenger, a 54-year-old female, both Mexican citizens, for further examination.
Inside the vehicle, CBP officers discovered a large box among several other household items. The box was emptied during the inspection, revealing bundles of undeclared currency totaling $296,010.
The third incident occurred at the Calexico East port at about 6:00 a.m., on Saturday, September 7th, when officers encountered a 48-year-old male U.S. citizen driving his 1990 GMC pickup truck. The driver and vehicle were referred to secondary for further inspection.
CBP officers utilized the port's imaging system and received an alert from a canine team's detector dog, leading officers to the discovery of 40 wrapped packages of cocaine concealed inside an auxiliary fuel tank in the bed of the truck. The narcotics weighed almost 98 pounds, with an estimated street value of $1,172,000.
The fourth incident occurred at about 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 8th, when CBP officers working at the Calexico downtown port of entry referred a 29-year-old female U.S. citizen driving a 2001 Ford Fusion sedan for further examination.
A CBP canine team screened the vehicle and received an alert from the detector dog. Officers subsequently discovered 20 wrapped packages containing more than 49 pounds of cocaine and two packages containing more than four pounds of methamphetamine in a hidden compartment inside the vehicle's rocker panels.
The cocaine and methamphetamine have an estimated street value of $590,400 and $85,000, respectively.
"CBP officers at the Imperial Valley ports of entry have proven to be exceptionally skilled at discovering unconventional concealment methods and these seizures are illustrative of those skills," said Pete Flores, Director of Operations for the San Diego Field Office.
All subjects were turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents for further processing and were transported to the Imperial County Jail to await arraignment.
It is a federal offense not to declare currency or monetary instruments totaling more than $10,000 to a CBP officer upon entry or exit from the U.S. or to conceal it with intent to evade reporting requirements. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.
CBP seized the vehicle and the narcotics.
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.