Marijuana Concealed in Toddler Chairs Highlights Enforcement Activity
El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at ports of entry in El Paso, West Texas, and New Mexico seized almost 1,300 pounds of illegal drugs during the past seven days. Seizure activity included 15 marijuana busts totaling 1,231 pounds and a pair of cocaine seizures netting 66 pounds.
One of the most unusual seizures of the week occurred May 5 when CBP officers at the Bridge of the Americas in El Paso discovered 11 pounds of marijuana hidden in a pair of toddler chairs. A CBP officer at the primary inspection station noted discrepancies in two boxes that were labeled as containing small chairs designed to be used by young children. CBP officers X-rayed the boxes and spotted an anomaly in the appearance of the chairs. CBP officers examined the chairs and found that numerous bundles of marijuana had been glued to the interior walls of the chairs. The contents of the 14 bundles tested positive for marijuana. CBP officers arrested the driver, a 42-year-old Juarez woman. She was turned over to the El Paso Police Department for local prosecution.
"CBP officers have found drugs concealed in bags of dog food, framed pictures of Jesus, cans of jalapenos, and many other common items," said William Molaski, CBP El Paso port director. "The creativity of the drug smuggler is foiled by the vigilance and attention to detail of the CBP officer."
CBP officers working at area ports of entry identified and took custody of 62 imposters during the past week. Imposters generally will use a legitimate entry document assigned to another person and present it to CBP as their own in an attempt to gain entry to the United States.
Imposters with previous criminal histories are generally booked into the El Paso County jail to face federal prosecution. Imposters are also removed from the United States for a minimum five year period and face federal felony charges if they attempt to illegally reenter the country again.
The 62 imposter arrests made up almost half of the 131 immigration related infractions CBP officers uncovered at area port during the previous seven days. CBP officers stopped 32 intended immigrants during the last week. 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. Violators generally lose their documents and are returned to Mexico. CBP officers also recorded 37 cases of people making false claims to U.S. citizenship; people attempting to enter with counterfeit or altered documents, people attempting to enter without inspection and visa overstay violations.
Thorough exams and name queries also resulted in the identification of 34 people who were being sought by law enforcement on a wide variety of charges. Fugitives were wanted for sexual assault of a minor, forgery domestic violence, probation violations, and other offenses.
CBP agriculture specialists working at area ports made 10 seizures of prohibited food and agricultural items this week, resulting in $2,600 in fines being assessed. Prohibited items seized this week included pork meat, pork skins, pork lard, mangos, guavas, apples, avocados, citrus leaves and live plants. Dozens of other people avoided penalties by declaring their agricultural items and abandoning prohibited items at the port.
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.