SAN CLEMENTE (CBSLA.com) — A mother traveling with her two children was arrested while trying to smuggle nearly 40 pounds of cocaine across the border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said Wednesday.
The 25-year-old woman, whose name was not released, was driving a 2001 Honda Accord that was stopped at about 10 a.m. by a Border Patrol K-9 handler on the northbound Interstate 5 near the Cristianitos Road exit in San Clemente. The woman’s 2-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy were also in the car at the time of the stop.
During the stop, the K-9 alerted to the vehicle, and agents searching the car found 14 bundles of cocaine hidden within the interior of the vehicle, CBP officials said.
Authorities said three bundles of cocaine were stashed in the front passenger seat, where the boy sat, while the rear passenger seat where the girl sat contained eight packages of cocaine. Three more packages of cocaine were hidden inside the driver’s seat, officials said.
The 14 bundles weighed a total of 38.25 pounds and has an estimated street value of $459,000, according to the CBP.
“It is very sad to see innocent children entangled in this shameful attempt to smuggle illicit narcotics,” Patrol Agent in Charge, Thomas Blanks, said in a statement.
The woman was arrested and turned over to a Drug Enforcement Administration task force, while the children were taken into the custody of San Diego County Child Welfare Services.
Border Patrol agents told KCAL9’s Serene Branson this was the fourth large drug bust in the past three months involving women with children in the car.
“They think they’re more inconspicuous that way,” the agent said.