Smuggler's Ingenuity Still No Match for Alert Border Patrol Agents
Santa Teresa, N.M. - A creative attempt to smuggle narcotics into the U.S. in southern New Mexico was foiled this morning by vigilant Border Patrol agents, highlighting a busy 24 hours in Santa Teresa and Las Cruces.
Agents in Santa Teresa discovered 215 pounds of marijuana being carried by a group of illegal migrants wearing "sponge-like" material on their feet in an attempt to disguise footprints and any evidence of having crossed the border illegally with the contraband. Agents were conducting patrol duties along the U.S./Mexico international border, when they noticed discrepancies on the sandy desert landscape. That suspicion led agents to seven subjects and contraband valued at $172,000.
Border Patrol agents periodically witness various types of methodology used by smugglers to get drugs into the United States. El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Randy Hill is familiar with these tactics, but says just when you think you've seen it all, an old idea with a new wrinkle comes along. "Sometimes being an agent on the border also requires having a detective's sense in recognizing how or if the ground is being disturbed," he said.
The agents, along with the support of Customs and Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine, were able to follow the path of the smugglers and eventually came upon the surprised subjects, all wearing material glued to the soles of their shoes, and carrying bundles of marijuana.
The subjects were immediately placed under arrest and after questioning were determined to have just entered the United States illegally. After transporting them all to the Santa Teresa Station, the green leafy substance was tested and weighed. All subjects were determined to be Citizens of Mexico and will be charged with illegal entry into the United States and possession of contraband.
The Drug Enforcement Administration in Las Cruces will take custody of the subjects and contraband. The Federal Bureau of Investigation will also interview all subjects to screen for gang affiliation.
Up the road a bit in Las Cruces, agents were conducting immigration inspections at the I-10 checkpoint when they encountered a U.S. Citizen named James Robinson. Agents became suspicious of conflicting information and odd mannerisms being displayed by the man. Agents also noticed an odor of marijuana when they approached the vehicle. A cursory inspection of the vehicle by a K-9 team was conducted which lead to the discovery of marijuana residue in the ashtray.
Records checks revealed a recent warrant for his arrest having been issued by the California Department of Corrections, along with an entire portfolio of criminal history consisting of felony robbery; theft; possession/sale of narcotics; pandering for prostitution; and was identified as a convicted sexual offender. Robinson was turned over to New Mexico State Police Department pending extradition to California.
These latest apprehensions and seizure is a clear indicator of the diverse level of training and dedication by CBP and Border Patrol agents in their efforts to protect America's borders via partnerships with all law enforcement agencies at each level of government. To date, in fiscal year 2010 (through February), El Paso Sector agents have seized more than $38 million dollars in narcotics.
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.