El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers assigned to the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection at the Stanton Street International Bridge made a 62.8 pound marijuana seizure Tuesday. The drugs were concealed in hidden compartments in the seat of a car.
"SENTRI is a trusted traveler program with an absolute zero tolerance policy for any violations," said Barry Miller, U.S. Customs and Border Protection acting El Paso Port Director. "CBP maintains the integrity of this vital border crossing option through random and targeted screenings of the vehicles and people that use the SENTRI lines. We trust but we also verify that users are complying with the rules of the program and the laws of the U.S. to maintain the integrity of the SENTRI lanes."
The seizure was made shortly before 1 p.m. when a 2002 Mercedes Benz C240 arrived at the port from Mexico. CBP officers conducted an exam on the vehicle during which CBP drug sniffing dog "Sany" alerted to the rear trunk area. CBP officers continued their exam and located a hidden compartment behind the rear seat of the car containing backpacks. CBP officers removed a total of 60 marijuana-filled bundles from the backpacks. The weight of the seized contraband was approximately 62.8 pounds.
CBP officers arrested the driver of the car, 34-year-old Ivan Gonzalez of Juarez, Mexico. He was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations special agents and booked into the El Paso County jail where he is currently being held without bond on drug smuggling charges.
In addition to the SENTRI drug seizure, CBP officers working at El Paso area ports of entry recently seized 112 pounds of marijuana in two additional busts; identified 26 immigration related violations; apprehended one fugitive and made one agriculture seizure. Anti-terror is the primary mission of CBP; however, thorough inspections at border ports of entry continue to generate impressive enforcement activity in all areas.
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.