June proves big month for border smuggling via truck

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | 7/6/2009

The month of June was a hot month for drug busts along the southern border.

On June 18, border agents at the Interstate 35 inspection station stopped nearly a thousand pounds of marijuana and seven illegal aliens from entering the U.S.

Customs and Border Patrol agents at the Laredo, TX, station inspected the driver of a tractor-trailer entering the U.S. from Mexico. A Border Patrol canine team detected either hidden people or contraband in the trailer.

Agents searched the trailer and found several cellophane-wrapped bundles stacked with a load of beer. The marijuana totaled 995.6 pounds and had an estimated street value of $796,480.

On June 20, agents at the same checkpoint performed an immigration inspection on the driver of a tractor-trailer from Mexico. A Border Patrol canine alerted agents to the truck’s cab where they discovered seven undocumented aliens hiding in the sleeper.

According to a news release from Customs and Border Patrol, all of the subjects were processed for prosecution or removal from the country.

During the same week, federal agents at the U.S.-Mexico border stopped two trucks that had gone to extensive lengths to hide marijuana and bring it into El Paso, TX.

On June 17, officers at the Ysleta commercial crossing in El Paso stopped a 1992 International truck that was deadheading from Mexico. During inspection, U.S. Customs officers discovered 340 pounds of marijuana hidden in the truck’s saddle tanks.

On June 18, border officers inspected a 1993 Freightliner pulling an empty reefer as it arrived at the Bridge of the Americas commercial crossing. An x-ray scan revealed “an anomaly” in the reefer’s floor. At the cargo dock, officers examined the trailer further and found 197 bundles of marijuana totaling 750 pounds hidden in the floor compartment.

The two busts totaled 1,090 pounds of marijuana worth nearly $1 million. No arrests had been made as of late June, according to a Customs and Border Protection news release.

“Seizing close to $1 million worth of marijuana in a 24-hour window is great work by anyone’s standards,” stated Bill Molaski, El Paso port director for CBP. “Our primary mission is anti-terrorism; however, we are still responsible for narcotics interdiction at the border.”

There’s more. On June 19, Border Patrol agents in California busted a U.S. driver for hauling a reefer with marijuana hidden in the walls.

Customs agents conducted an inspection on a 59-year-old U.S. citizen entering California at the Otay Mesa port of entry. A CBP officer noticed “anomalies” with the box truck reefer, and a gamma ray inspection confirmed oddities with the wall separating the cargo area and the cab.

Officers found 25 packages of marijuana worth an estimated $261,000 hidden within the vehicle’s walls.

Officers seized the narcotics and vehicle and arrested the driver for trafficking narcotics before turning him over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a news release.

Another major bust occurred on June 27 when border patrol agents at Laredo, TX, busted a truck from Mexico pulling an oilfield service tank loaded with $4 million worth of marijuana.

A federal Border Patrol canine team at the immigration inspection on Texas Highway 1017 detected either hidden people or contraband in the tank.

Agents searched the tank and found a false compartment built into the bottom. The compartment had 205 cellophane-wrapped bundles of marijuana with a total weight of 5,059 pounds, worth about $4 million on the street.

The drugs, truck and driver were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer


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