EL PASO, TEXAS—U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the El Paso port of entry seized 437 pounds of marijuana Monday night. The estimated street value of the seized marijuana is $350,000.
"This is a large quantity of drugs to be concealed in a single vehicle," said Hector Mancha, CBP El Paso Port Director. "This is a significant loss for a drug trafficking organization. I commend our officers again for their vigilance."
The seizure occurred at approximately 5:30 p.m. at the Paso Del Norte international crossing when a 1999 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck arrived from Mexico. CBP officers initiated an exam and detected a number of anomalies during their search of the vehicle and their interview of the driver. A CBP drug-sniffing dog alerted to the undercarriage of the truck during a secondary exam. A "Buster" density meter also provided CBP officers with high readings consistent with concealed contraband. CBP officers continued their exam and located 258 marijuana-filled bundles hidden in the bed and cabin of the pickup.
CBP officers took custody of the driver, 30-year-old Julio Cesar Portillo Lopez of Chihuahua City, Chihuahua, Mexico. He was turned over to and arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI agents in connection with the failed smuggling attempt. He is currently detained at the El Paso County jail without bond.
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.