El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the El Paso, Texas port of entry made three marijuana seizures Tuesday; including one bust where the drugs were found concealed in framed pictures of Jesus Christ.
"This is not the first time we have seen smugglers attempt to use religious figures and articles of faith to further their criminal enterprise," said William Molaski, port director for CBP in El Paso. "What some might find offensive or sacrilegious has unfortunately become a standard operating procedure for drug smugglers. This would include using religious symbols, children, and senior citizens in their attempts to defeat the CBP inspection process."
The seizure was made just before 3 p.m. at the Bridge of the Americas international crossing in El Paso. A 22-year-old Mexican woman driving a 1998 Jeep Cherokee arrived from Juarez and told officers she had nothing to declare other than some framed art. CBP officers initiated an exam of the vehicle during which CBP drug sniffing dog "Cesar" alerted to three framed pictures of Jesus Christ that were in the Jeep.
CBP officers removed the backing on one of the pictures and found numerous bundles. The contests of the bundles tested positive for marijuana. CBP officers continued their exam and found similar packaging in all three framed pictures. CBP officers removed a total of 30 marijuana-filled bundles weighing 30.7 pounds. The driver, a native of Juarez, Mexico, was turned over to the El Paso Police Department for prosecution.
In addition to this seizure, CBP officers at the El Paso port of entry also seized 214 pounds of marijuana in two additional busts. CBP officers at the El Paso port also recorded nine immigration violations and one agriculture bust on Tuesday. 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 significant 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.