CBP Officers in Nogales Find 5 Tons of Marijuana in a Shipment of Watermelon
Nogales, Ariz. - CBP officers at the Nogales ports of entry had a busy day yesterday intercepting more than 9,500 pounds of marijuana and stopping close to $334,000 in illicit funds believed to be headed back to Mexico to fuel the drug trafficking trade.
The first of the two big seizures occurred in the early afternoon hours at the Mariposa Cargo facility when a tractor/trailer driven by a 40-year-old man from Mexico was selected for an agriculture inspection. As the vehicle was being driven through the non-intrusive inspections system, anomalies were observed. Confirmation of narcotics in the shipment of watermelon was further corroborated through the use of a K-9 narcotics detection dog.
Offload of the cargo revealed 390 bales of marijuana, totaling more than 9,500 pounds with a street value of more than $21 million. The driver of the truck was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for further investigation.
The second interception occurred mid afternoon when CBP officers at the DeConcini port of entry selected an Arizona plated white Saturn Aura driven by a 19-year-old U.S. citizen departing the United States for inspection. Prior to commencing the inspection, the driver was asked if he was in possession of any guns, ammunition or monetary instruments of more than $10,000. The subject declared some money, but not more than $10,000.
Due to discrepancies in the subjects statements during the interview process, the vehicle and driver were escorted to the secondary outbound inspections area. During the course of the inspection, a non-factory compartment was found in the dash containing 27 packages of cellophane wrapped currency totaling close to $334,000. The driver of the vehicle was turned over to ICE for further investigation.
Guadalupe H. Ramirez, port director, Nogales, said, "It is important for everyone to know that CBP, Office of Field Operations, is working tirelessly day and night to defend the United States from the illicit narcotics trade. The drug trafficking organizations need to know that CBP will catch them coming in and going out of this country."
While the primary focus of the port is on what is entering into the United States, the port does have a special team that focuses on the people and vehicles departing the country. During these outbound inspections, the team is looking for fugitives from the law, abducted children, stolen vehicles, guns and large quantities of undeclared currency.
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.