SAN DIEGO – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the ports of entry in San Diego and Imperial Valley counties intercepted more than $61 million worth of narcotics over the weekend, including 668 pounds of methamphetamine hidden in a cactus shipment, almost 15,000 pounds of marijuana in what was supposed to be a shipment of limes, and a spare tire with fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine hidden inside.
“International drug trafficking organizations will use whatever means they can think of to try and move their illicit shipments into the U.S.,” said Pete Flores, Director of Field Operations for CBP in San Diego. “CBP officers dedicate their careers to protecting our country by securing the border. For them, these unusual seizures are all in a day’s work.”
On August 7, at about 8 a.m., a tractor-trailer arrived at the Otay Mesa cargo facility with a shipment manifested as cactus. CBP officers referred the shipment to be unloaded at the dock for an intensive inspection.
A CBP canine team screened the shipment, and the dog alerted to a pallet of cactus. CBP officers searched inside the crates of cactus pads (which are often used in nopales, or prickly pear, dishes and drinks) and found packages, wrapped with green tape, hidden inside among the pads. In total, officers found 590 packages, containing about 668 pounds of methamphetamine. The narcotics have an estimated street value of over $1.5 million.
Later that same day, again at the Otay Mesa cargo crossing, at approximately 6:30 p.m., CBP officers sent another tractor-trailer to the dock for further inspection after discovering anomalies during a scan by X-ray imaging system. CBP officers opened the boxes and found large, tape-wrapped packages inside the many boxes manifested as limes. Officers found 622 large, tape-wrapped packages inside the boxes, containing 14,880 pounds of marijuana. The narcotics have an estimated street value of almost $60 million.
In another interception at about 1 p.m. on Sunday, August 9, a 35-year-old male, U.S. citizen, driving a white Ford F-150 arrived at the Calexico port of entry. The CBP officer referred the car and driver aside for further inspection. A CBP officer screened the vehicle with the X-ray imaging system and noticed anomalies with the spare tire. A CBP canine team also screened the vehicle, and the canine alerted to the same area.
CBP officers cut open the spare tire; inside they found one package of fentanyl with a weight of 2.43 pounds, one package of heroin with a weight of 2.56 pounds, and 41 packages of methamphetamine with a weight of 67.20 pounds. The narcotics have an estimated street value of about $125,000. The driver was taken into custody and turned over to HSI for further disposition.
In all cases, the conveyances were seized.
Criminal charges are merely allegations. Defendants are presume innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
CBP officers at the border crossings in Southern California routinely stop illegal activity, while processing millions of legitimate travelers into the United States.
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 official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.