NOGALES, ARIZ.—As 2010 wound down to a close, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Nogales made their last major marijuana seizure of the year after discovering almost 5,000 pounds of the drug hidden among green tomatoes being imported into the country.
"We're out here every day working to keep our country and our way of life safe," said Port Director Guadalupe Ramirez. "As long as the smugglers try to get drugs and other contraband past us, we'll be here to stop them."
At approximately 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 30, CBP officers screening commercial vehicles selected a tractor and trailer loaded with green tomatoes for inspection. During an X-ray inspection, officers found unusual images and decided to call for a full inspection with the help of a narcotics detection dog. While the pallets of tomatoes were being unloaded, the drug dog alerted to the odor of narcotics. As the CBP officers continued their inspection, they found several pallets with bundles of marijuana mixed in with the tomatoes.
A total of 210 bales of marijuana, weighing 4,984 lbs, were seized, along with the tractor and trailer. The estimated value of the marijuana is more than $4.2 million.
The driver, a 48-year-old man from Mexico, was arrested and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for further investigation and prosecution.
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.