El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers assigned to the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) program here recently stopped two smuggling attempts by program participants.
On Wednesday, CBP officers at the Stanton Street international bridge made an 87-pound marijuana seizure from a SENTRI program participant. Earlier this month, officers at the Ysleta SENTRI lane seized more than 4 pounds of prohibited bologna from another participant.
"SENTRI is a trusted traveler program with a zero tolerance policy for violations," said William Molaski, U.S. Customs and Border Protection El Paso Port Director. "CBP maintains the integrity of this important program through random and targeted screenings of SENTRI users. We trust but we also verify that users are complying with the rules of the program and the laws of the U.S."
The marijuana seizure was made shortly after 8 a.m. when a 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier arrived at the port from Mexico. CBP officers conducted an exam on the vehicle and found several backpacks in the trunk. They opened the backpacks and located numerous tape-wrapped bundles commonly used to smuggle drugs. A CBP canine team searched the car and alerted to the presence of drugs. CBP officers removed a total of 80 marijuana-filled bundles from the backpacks.
CBP officers arrested the driver of the car, 22-year-old Michelle Renee Devora of El Paso, Texas. She was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents and booked into the El Paso County jail where she is currently being held without bond.
On March 17, CBP officers working at the Ysleta SENTRI lane made a 4.4 pound bologna seizure. The prohibited meat product was discovered during a secondary exam of a 2003 Nissan Xterra that entered the port from Mexico. A CBP officer at the primary inspection booth received a negative declaration for fruits, vegetables, meats and plants from the driver. The vehicle was selected for a secondary inspection during which the driver made additional negative declarations for food items. CBP officers searched the vehicle and discovered groceries which included the prohibited meat. The driver, a 33-year-old El Paso woman with U.S. citizenship, was fined $500 and surrendered her SENTRI card to CBP.
"Not only does this product pose a risk to the U.S. agriculture industry, the driver violated the terms of SENTRI membership by trying to import the bologna through the SENTRI lane," said Molaski.
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.