El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel working at the El Paso port of entry seized 24.5 pounds of cocaine Tuesday. A CBP investigation of the incident revealed that the smuggler was using an assumed identity to enter the United States.
The seizure was made at approximately 2:40 p.m. at the Bridge of the Americas international crossing. CBP officers were performing an enforcement sweep of vehicles waiting to enter the primary inspection booths when CBP drug sniffing dog "Outlaw" alerted to a 2006 Chevrolet Vectra. CBP officers began searching the car and located a brown-taped bundle in the center console. The driver of the car attempted to flee on foot south towards Mexico but was quickly apprehended by CBP officers. CBP officers then removed a total of 12 cocaine-filled bundles from the center console of the car.
CBP officers interviewed the driver, who provided information indicating that he was 34-year-old Juarez man. Further inspection by CBP officers determined that the man in custody was not the person he originally claimed to be but instead 31-year-old Jose Maria Gomez De La Fuente of Juarez, Mexico. CBP officers performed a fingerprint query to confirm his true identity. CBP officers learned that the man purchased a genuine Mexican birth certificate to establish an assumed identity so he could enter the U.S. The violator believed he would not be able to obtain an entry document using his actual identity information because of a past criminal history.
"CBP officers went to great lengths to verify the true identity of the person in custody," said William Molaski, CBP El Paso port director. "What began as a simple drug smuggling case grew into something much larger because of the diligence of CBP officers at the El Paso port of entry."
CBP officers arrested Jose Maria Gomez De La Fuente, who was then turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents to face federal drug smuggling charges. CBP officers also cancelled his border crossing card. Jose Gomez De La Fuente will be returned to Mexico at the conclusion of legal proceedings associated with his drug smuggling charges.
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.
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.