Nogales, Ariz. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Dennis DeConcini Port seized more than 14 pounds of cocaine, nearly 24 pounds of methamphetamine and almost one-half pound of heroin Tuesday in connection with failed smuggling attempts.
Officers referred Marlene Esparza, 28, of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico and her two U.S. citizen children for additional inspection as they attempted to enter the United States. After a CBP narcotics detection canine alerted to the presence of drugs in her GMC truck, officers removed almost 16 pounds of methamphetamine and almost three pounds of cocaine from the vehicle's radiator. Combined, the drugs are valued at roughly $264,000.
Several hours later, officers referred Jessica Castellon Romero, 21, of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico for additional inspection of her Dodge van when she attempted to enter the United States. After a CBP service canine alerted to the presence of drugs, officers removed almost one-half pound of heroin, nearly 12 pounds of cocaine and more than eight pounds of methamphetamine from the vehicle's heater core. The drugs have a combined value of $240,000.
Both vehicles and all drugs were seized. Esparza and Castellon Romero were arrested and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations. Esparza's children were turned over to her sister without further incident.
Individuals arrested may be charged by complaint, the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity, which raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent unless and until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
CBP's Office of Field Operations is the primary organization within Homeland Security tasked with an anti-terrorism mission at our nation's ports. CBP officers screen all people, vehicles and goods entering the United States while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel. Their mission also includes carrying out border-related duties, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration and trade laws, and protecting the nation's food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) 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.