SAN DIEGO (CBSLA.com) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized more than $4 million in narcotics and unreported currency at ports of entry along the California-Mexico border over the weekend.
CBP officers at the six land ports of entry intercepted 19 smuggling attempts involving marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. The drugs were hidden in various areas of the vehicles such as in the gas tank, in the bumpers, quarter panels and the tires.
The first seizure occurred on Friday, Dec. 7, at 9 a.m. at the Otay Mesa port of entry when officers arrested a 24-year-old male U.S. citizen after they found 142 pounds of marijuana hidden in the vehicle he was driving.
A CBP officer escorted the green 1996 Nissan Pathfinder to secondary for further examination and used x-ray equipment and a detector dog to screen the vehicle. Officers subsequently discovered 24 wrapped packages concealed inside all four tires of the vehicle.
The estimated street value of the narcotic is approximately $213,000.
The second seizure occurred approximately four hours later at the Tecate cargo facility when a CBP referred a 56-year-old male Mexican citizen driving a 1998 Freightliner tractor for further examination.
At the cargo dock area, CBP officers conducted an intensive examination that included a canine screening and use of x-ray equipment that resulted in the discovery of 20 bricks of marijuana hidden underneath a shipment of ornamental stones.
The weight of the marijuana was 637 pounds with a street value of approximately $955,500.
The third seizure occurred on Saturday, Dec. 8, at about 2:40 p.m. when U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the San Ysidro port of entry intercepted more than $383,561 in unreported U.S. currency.
CBP officers were conducting outbound inspections and targeted a white 2007 Dodge Caliber, driven by a 23-year-old male U.S. citizen, for further examination.
Officers conducted an intensive examination of the vehicle that led them to the discovery of eight vacuum sealed packages containing the U.S. currency, concealed inside the gas tank.
CBP officers arrested the driver and seized the money and vehicle.
It is a federal offense not to declare currency or monetary instruments totaling more than $10,000 to a CBP officer upon entry or exit from the U.S. or to conceal it with intent to evade reporting requirements. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.
The fourth seizure occurred on Sunday, Dec. 9, at about 4:30 a.m. at the Calexico downtown port of entry when a CBP officer referred a 35-year-old female U.S. citizen driving a black 2002 Ford Explorer for further examination. During the interview, the officer noticed she was nervous.
A detector dog alerted to the engine of the vehicle and a subsequent search of the area led officers to the discovery of 13 wrapped packages of cocaine, concealed inside the radiator. The weight of the narcotic was 39 pounds with a street value of approximately $468,000.
In all four narcotic incidents, the drivers were transported to local jail facilities.
CBP seized the narcotics and vehicles.