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CBP Officers Large Heroin Seizure at El Paso Port

Release Date: 
January 25, 2012

EL PASO, TEXAS—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at the El Paso port of entry made a sizeable heroin seizure on Tuesday. They discovered 5.3 pounds of the drug concealed within a vehicle that entered the port from Mexico.

Heroin concealed within transmission transfer case.

CBP officers in El Paso discover packages of heroin concealed within the transmission transfer case of a pick up truck that entered the Paso Del Norte international crossing January 24, 2012.

"This is a huge seizure," said Hector Mancha, U.S. Customs and Border Protection El Paso port director. "During the last fiscal year area CBP seized seven pounds of heroin so stopping more than five pounds in a single bust is significant."

The seizure was made after a 1993 Ford F-250 pickup truck arrived at the Paso Del Norte crossing shortly before noon Tuesday. A CBP officer at the primary inspection booth initiated an inspection and questioned two female occupants of the truck. The CBP officer noticed that both females, a mother and daughter, were nervous during the primary inspection.

The CBP officer selected the vehicle for a secondary exam. During the secondary inspection a CBP drug sniffing dog alerted to the undercarriage of the truck. CBP officers continued their examination and located two heroin-filled bundles contained within the transmission transfer case. The drugs weighed 5.3 pounds.

Custom shaped heroin packages.

Smugglers custom shaped two packages of heroin to fit inside the transmission transfer case of a pick up truck that entered the U.S. at the El Paso port of entry January 24, 2012. CBP officers at the port seized 5.3 pounds of the drug in the bust.

"Smugglers went to great lengths to conceal this contraband to avoid detection," said Mancha. "CBP officers worked long and hard to identify and locate the hidden compartment within the transmission transfer case of this vehicle. Smugglers work hard to hide their drugs but CBP officers work harder to find them."

CBP officers arrested one of the occupants, 36-year-old Candida Carolina Ortiz of Hemet, California. She was turned over to ICE/HSI special agents to face federal charges to include possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and importation of a controlled substance. Her 20-year-old daughter was interviewed and released.

"CBP officers will encounter any and all types of people attempting to smuggle drugs," said Mancha. "We have seen teens, senior citizens, and multi-generational family units all involved in drug smuggling."

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.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017