Columbus, N.M. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Columbus port of entry made a 157-pound marijuana seizure Saturday. A Deming man was arrested in connection with the failed smuggling attempt.
The seizure was made just before 4:00 p.m. August 20 when a 2001 Dodge Ram entered the port from Mexico. CBP officers working at the primary inspection booth selected the vehicle for a secondary inspection. CBP drug sniffing dog "Supi" searched the vehicle and alerted to the presence of drugs in the truck. CBP officers used a fiber optic scope to look into the fuel tank and noticed anomalies in the appearance of the tank. The gas tank was removed and dismantled revealing three metal boxes inside. The boxes were cut open producing three large compressed bundles of marijuana. The drugs weighed 157 pounds.
CBP officers took custody of the suspect, 51-year-old Ernesto G. Valenzuela of Deming, New Mexico. He was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations special agents to face federal charges including importation of a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
"The combination of CBP officer expertise, technology, and a drug sniffing dog all contributed to this successful enforcement action," said Columbus Assistant Port Director David Coppenbarger. "These layers of enforcement play in important role in CBP's ability to support its mission of protecting the people of America from a multitude of threats."
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.
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.