Pine Valley, Calif. - On Saturday, U.S. Border Patrol agents working at the Border Patrol checkpoint in Pine Valley arrested a 19-year-old male United States citizen from Calexico, Calif., for smuggling more than 140 pounds of marijuana concealed inside the tires of an SUV.
Agents encountered the man as he arrived to the checkpoint at about 6:45 a.m., driving a 1988 Nissan Pathfinder. As agents questioned the suspect, his inconsistent answers and nervous demeanor prompted agents to refer him to a secondary inspection area.
A Border Patrol K-9 team performed a cursory inspection of the Pathfinder, resulting in a positive alert to the rear of the vehicle. Agents inspected the vehicle's interior and noticed a spare tire in the cargo area appeared to be heavier than normal.
Agents then utilized non-intrusive inspection technology which detected anomalies in the rear tires and the driver-side front tire, leading agents to inspect further. Agents opened four tires, including the spare and discovered that each held a round, metal enclosure containing bundles of marijuana.
Agents extracted a total of 24 bundles of marijuana, which had a weight of more than 142 pounds and an estimated street value of $71,000.
The suspected smuggler was arrested and turned over to a multi-agency, anti-drug task force, along with the narcotics. The Nissan Pathfinder was seized by the Border Patrol.
To prevent illicit smuggling of humans, drugs and other contraband, the U.S. Border Patrol maintains a high level of vigilance on major corridors of egress away from our nation's borders.