Officers Seize 1,000 Pounds of Marijuana Over Weekend at El Paso
El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the El Paso port of entry made seven marijuana seizures and one Ecstasy seizure during the weekend. CBP officers confiscated approximately 1,362.53 pounds of marijuana with an approximate value of $3,161,070 and 605 units of Ecstasy.
"CBP officers, our K-9 teams and the use of high-tech tools greatly contributed to these significant seizures and arrests. As CBP officers secure the border they encounter smuggling attempts, make arrests and seize dangerous narcotics. These were great enforcement actions by our CBP officers on the frontline," said Bill Molaski, CBP El Paso port director.
The largest of the marijuana seizures was made at the Bridge of the Americas international crossing at approximately 10:14 a.m. on Saturday when a 39-year-old El Paso man driving a 2001 Ford F-150 Lariat arrived from Mexico and told officers he had nothing to declare. CBP officers selected the vehicle for an extensive exam where CBP drug sniffing dog Aura alerted to the vehicle. A gamma-ray exam also identified several anomalies in the appearance of the area of the bed.
The truck was taken to a separate inspection area where several non-factory compartments were found in the cab floor and bed area. CBP officers removed a total of 192 bundles. The contents of the bundles tested positive for marijuana with an approximate weight of 540.70 pounds.
CBP officers at the port arrested the driver, Oscar Apolonio Zubia of El Paso. He was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations special agents to face federal charges including importation of a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. He remains in custody at the El Paso County jail and being held without bond.
A second marijuana seizure was made on Saturday at the Bridge of the Americas at approximately 3:40 p.m. when a 1996 GMC Suburban arrived at the port from Mexico. CBP officers and canine teams were conducting a sweep of vehicles waiting in line at the international crossing when CBP drug sniffing dog Outlaw alerted to the vehicle.
CBP officers launched an exam and located a non-factory compartment in the rear cargo area. They drilled into the compartment and removed a green leafy substance that tested positive for marijuana. CBP officers removed a total of 300 bundles from the cargo area compartment, gas tank and the spare tire with an approximate weight of 325.45 pounds.
CBP officers at the port arrested the driver, 19-year-old Julio Alejandro Raygoza Miranda of El Paso. He was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents to face federal charges including importation of a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. He remains in custody at the El Paso County jail and being held without bond.
In addition to the drug seizures, CBP officers recorded 45 immigration violations at area ports including 21 intended immigrants and five impostors. Intended immigrants will use a legally issued border-crossing card, or 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. Impostors 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 also recorded 19 cases of people making false claims to U.S. citizenship, people attempting to enter with counterfeit or altered documents, and stopping those who previously entered the country illegally. Most of these people will be prosecuted and go to jail.
CBP officers working at area ports took five people into custody who were being sought on outstanding warrants and lookouts to include failure to appear, probation violation, fugitive from justice and prior port runner.
CBP officers working at ports of entry in El Paso, West Texas and New Mexico made three seizures of agricultural items. Violators paid $1,025 in penalties in association with the violations. Prohibited food products seized included mangos, pork chorizo and live plants.
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.