Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Smugglers continue to use food to hide drug shipments — this time it's tortillas

Border patrol agents drug smuggling meth tortillas food

The trend of drug smugglers using food to obscure their cargos continued over the weekend.

Customs and Border Protection officers at the Morley pedestrian crossing at the border in Nogales, Arizona, stopped a 62-year-old man from Arizona on Friday.

The officers, using a narcotics-detection canine, found nearly 3 pounds of meth in a package of tortillas the man was carrying.

That seizure was followed by one of 26 pounds of meth worth almost $78,000, which was found the next day hidden in the Chevy SUV of a US citizen living in Mexico.

A day before the meth-laden tortillas were uncovered, CBP agents and a canine team at the Pharr International Bridge in McAllen, Texas, searched a Freightliner tractor loaded with a commercial shipment of carrots.

Mixed in with the carrots, officers recovered 159 packages carrying 88 pounds of what is suspected to be methamphetamine, with an estimated value of $1,763,680.

Traffickers have often mixed illicit drugs in with food shipments. Perishable items are thought to not attract the same scrutiny as other goods going over the border, and odorous food items help obscure illegal drugs, particularly marijuana.

In August, border agents uncovered more than 4,000 pounds of marijuana hidden among limes. In two incidents in early July, border agents found well over 200 pounds of meth hidden in shipments of jalapeños and cucumbers.

Marijuana, a bulky substance, is usually carried across the border in large quantities. That typically means big shipments obscured within other cargos or in large amounts carried through underground tunnels.

Mexico drug tunnel marijuana

But mules are still employed to carry marijuana into the US from Mexico.

In three separate incidents around central Texas at the end of September and beginning of October, CBP agents apprehended seven suspected smugglers on foot carrying hundreds of pounds of marijuana.

In four separate incidents in west Texas between October 17 and 23, CBP agents intercepted 20 men attempting to carry hundreds of pounds of marijuana across the border.

SEE ALSO: Watch the US Coast Guard seize a narco sub laden with more than 5,600 pounds of cocaine

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NOW WATCH: Why most of the profits in the drug business stay in the United States


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