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CBP Officers Locate Drug Load in Framed Quinceanera Plaques

Release Date: 
January 30, 2012

COLUMBUS, N.M.—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at the Columbus port of entry made an unusual seizure Sunday. They discovered bundles of marijuana stashed inside wood-framed and mirrored Quinceanara plaques. The seizure was one of several large and unusual drug busts made by CBP officers in recent days.


Marijuana Concealed in Quinceanara Plaques

CBP officers working at the Columbus port of entry discovered marijuana concealed inside a shipment of mirrored quinceanara remembrance plaques Sunday. The drugs weighed 104 pounds. An 18-year-old Denver woman was arrested.

"This seizure illustrates that smugglers will go to great lengths in the effort to conceal their contraband," said Robert Reza, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Columbus Port Director. "No expense was spared in the production of these smuggling tools."

The seizure was made shortly before noon when a 2002 Ford Explorer with a lone occupant entered the port from neighboring Palomas, Mexico. CBP officers were conducting an operation inspecting vehicles in line when they approached the driver of the vehicle. CBP officers selected the vehicle for a secondary exam.

CBP officers initiated an exam of the vehicle during which they located numerous boxes filled with quincinera decorations. A CBP officer noticed an anomaly in several framed/mirrored Quinceanara plaques which were in the vehicle. CBP officers drilled into one plaque and recovered a green substance which tested positive for marijuana. CBP officers dismantled the plaques and recovered 100 thin rectangular wrapped packages. The packages contained marijuana and weighed 104 pounds.


Concealed Marijuana hidden inside plaques

CBP officers dismantled a pair of drug-filled mirrored quinceanara remembrance plaques to illustrate the concealment method used in a failed smuggling attempt at the Columbus port of entry Sunday. The frames contained 104 pounds of marijuana. An 18-year-old Denver woman was arrested.

CBP officers arrested the driver of the vehicle, 18-year-old Tahlia Arana Perea of Denver, Colorado. She was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI agents to face federal charges including importation of a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

In addition to the above seizure, CBP officers working at area ports of entry made six additional drug seizures this weekend during which they confiscated 1,046 pounds of marijuana and 2.5 pounds of cocaine.

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