El Paso Sector U.S. Border Patrol Agents made numerous seizures of narcotics and cash over a 48-hour span in New Mexico. The cache included a total of 869 pounds of marijuana, $60,000 in suspected drug cash and additional narcotics. The illicit activity included six separate episodes including three in Lordsburg and three in Alamogordo.
The round-up was highlighted by a seizure on Monday, Feb. 4, at the immigration checkpoint on U.S. Highway 70, west of Alamogordo. In that instance, agents apprehended 25-year-old Marcelo Lamar Hall and 32-year-old Benjamin Joshua Johnson, both U.S. Citizens. The mannerisms of the men became suspicious to agents, and a subsequent non-intrusive K-9 inspection of their 2008 Chrysler revealed three vacuum-sealed bags containing $60,060 in suspected U.S. drug currency that was hidden underneath the rear passenger seat. Agents also found a user’s amount of marijuana inside a suitcase that was in the possession of one subject. Both subjects denied any knowledge or ownership of the currency, but the currency and vehicle were seized by agents.
The largest marijuana seizure during this period was in the Lordsburg area on Tuesday, Feb. 5, when agents found 19 bundles of marijuana totaling 429 pounds near the base of the Big Hatchet Mountain Range. An extensive search of the area did not yield any subjects. The narcotics are being stored in evidence in Lordsburg awaiting transfer to the Columbus, N.M. port of entry.
Earlier the same day, a separate seizure of 354 pounds of marijuana was made at 7 a.m. in the Salt Canyon area, outside of Lordsburg. A U.S. Border Patrol canine and an Office of Air and Marine (OAM) helicopter crew helped locate eight burlap backpacks full of contraband that had been left in the area. No arrests were made.
In a separate incident, the following at the same checkpoint on U.S. Highway 70, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested a U.S. Citizen riding on a commercial bus-line. 25-year-old Bernie Robert Ortiz was carrying approximately eight pounds of marijuana strapped to his left thigh, with an estimated street value of $6,480. The Otero County Narcotics Enforcement Unit took custody of the subject and marijuana.