OTAY MESA, Calif. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Otay Mesa cargo port of entry Friday seized more than three tons of marijuana hidden in a cargo shipment.
“My officers not only need to enforce typical import and export laws, but also need to be vigilant for smuggling attempts like this,” said Otay Mesa Cargo Port Director Rosa Hernandez. “From the first officer that referred this truck and shipment for an x-ray exam, to each officer down the line, they used the tools at their disposal to find and seize this large shipment, potentially taking about $4 million from the bankroll of a criminal organization.”
At about 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3, a driver arrived at the Otay Mesa crossing with a cargo shipment identified as “Signaling Lights Accessories.” The CBP officer conducting the inspection referred the truck and shipment for an x-ray examination.
During the x-ray exam, CBP officers identified an anomaly and sent the truck and shipment to the dock for a more intensive examination.
At the dock, a CBP officer with a human-narcotic detector dog screened the truck, and the canine alerted to the trailer. A CBP officer climbed into the trailer and opened a box labeled “mecanico.” Inside, the officer found a plastic-wrapped package.
In total, officers found 295 packages hidden inside the boxes, containing about 6,624 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of approximately $4 million.
CBP officers turned the driver, a 43-year-old male Mexican citizen with a valid border crossing card, over to agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations. CBP officers canceled his border crossing card, and he was booked into the Metropolitan Correctional Center. CBP officers seized the tractor, trailer, cargo shipment, and 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.