EL PASO, Texas -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the El Paso port of entry seized 299 pounds of marijuana Thursday. The drugs were seized in three different enforcement actions. The estimated street value of the seized contraband is $239,200.
“The smuggling threat remains high and CBP officers are working hard every day to identify and stop all violators that use our border crossings,” said Hector Mancha, CBP El Paso Port Director. “The examinations and queries performed by CBP uncover drug smugglers, illegal immigrants, fugitives and other threats to our nation on a daily basis.”
The largest of the three Thursday seizures occurred at approximately 1 p.m. at the Paso Del Norte international crossing. CBP officers and U.S. Border Patrol agents were performing a sweep of arriving vehicles when a Border Patrol agent selected a 1998 Chevrolet Tahoe for additional scrutiny. The agent noted a number of issues with the vehicle and that the driver was nervous during a routine discussion. CBP drug sniffing dog “Meri” searched the vehicle and alerted to a tire. CBP officers initiated a thorough exam and found that smugglers had fabricated marijuana-filled metal collars and attached them to the rims of the vehicle. CBP officers removed 136 pounds of marijuana from hidden compartments.
CBP officers arrested the driver of the vehicle. He is identified as 35-year-old Oscar Ruelas Lopez of Torreon, Mexico. He was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI special agents to face charges associated with the smuggling attempt.
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.