El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at El Paso area ports of entry made several marijuana seizures during the New Year holiday week. CBP officers confiscated a total of 359 pounds of marijuana.
One of the seizures was of a U.S. citizen male who had a baggie of marijuana strapped to his groin area under his clothing. The seizure was one of nine drug busts CBP officers made during the period.
"Our officers and agriculture specialists have worked hard throughout the holiday season to intercept illegal substances and wanted criminals, while dealing with large amounts of travelers," said Ana Hinojosa, U.S. Customs and Border Protection director of Field Operations in El Paso. "Each seizure or fugitive arrest makes our community and our country that much safer."
In the largest seizure of the period, CBP officers at the El Paso port of entry confiscated 107.54 pounds of marijuana on Tuesday. The seizure was made after a 1999 Ford Expedition entered the port from Mexico. A CBP officer at the primary inspection booth noticed inconsistencies on the door panels of the vehicle. CBP drug sniffing dog "Aura" searched the vehicle and alerted to the passenger's side rear door. The vehicle was taken to a separate inspection area where an extensive inspection of the entire vehicle was conducted. CBP officers discovered 96 marijuana-filled packages concealed in the doors.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents arrested 20-year-old Krystal Millan of Glendale, Ariz. and 20-year-old Christopher Gonzalez of Tucson, Ariz. in connection with the failed smuggling attempt.
In addition to the drug busts, CBP officers working at ports of entry in El Paso, West Texas and New Mexico made a total of 18 seizures of agricultural items. Violators paid $3,525 in penalties in association with the violations. Prohibited food products seized included apples, sweet limes, oranges, live plants, live cactus, pomegranate, guavas, pork chorizo, pork ham, and avocados with seed.
CBP officers recorded 95 immigration violations at area ports this week including 21 imposters. CBP officers remain vigilant. Their thorough and diligent document exam process combined with their interview techniques helped in catching two alien smugglers. Imposters generally will use a legitimate entry document assigned to another person and present it as their own. Violators generally lose their documents, can be prosecuted and go to jail and/or are returned to Mexico.
CBP officers seized documents from 74 intended immigrants. In these cases, individuals will use a legally issued border-crossing card (laser visa) to live or work in the U.S., which is not authorized. They also lose their documents and are generally returned to Mexico.
CBP officers working at area ports made a total of 14 fugitive apprehensions during the period.
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 impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.