OTAY MESA, Calif. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Otay Mesa cargo port of entry Thursday seized more than 15 tons of marijuana hidden in a cargo shipment of mattresses. The seizure is the largest narcotics seizure ever at the border crossing, and second largest seizure at any border crossing nationwide.
“I am extremely proud of the work my officers do. Officers never give up their enforcement posture and demonstrate each and every day that they remain guardians of our nation,” said Otay Mesa Cargo Port Director Rosa Hernandez.
At about 6 p.m. on Feb. 26, a driver arrived at the Otay Mesa crossing with a cargo shipment identified as “mattress and cushions.” The CBP officer conducting the inspection referred the truck and shipment for an x-ray examination.
During the x-ray exam, CBP officers identified an anomaly and sent the truck and shipment to the dock for a more intensive examination.
At the dock, a CBP officer opened the trailer’s door and immediately saw only plastic-wrapped packages stacked from floor to ceiling inside the trailer. Almost the entire trailer was filled with those packages from floor to ceiling, front to back, although there were a few mattresses stacked along the wall at the opposite end of the trailer from the doors.
In total, officers found 1,296 packages, containing about 31,598 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of approximately $18.96 million.
CBP officers turned the driver, a 46-year-old male Mexican citizen with a valid border crossing card, over to agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations. CBP officers canceled his border crossing card, and he was booked into the Metropolitan Correctional Center. CBP officers seized the tractor, trailer, cargo shipment, and narcotics.
This seizure is the second largest seizure on record by CBP officers at the ports of entry nationwide. The largest seizure was 35,265 pounds of marijuana from the Calexico East port of entry in 2013. For the Otay Mesa cargo port of entry, previously the largest seizure was 19,999 pounds of marijuana seized in 2003.
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.