Regional
10:54 pm
Mon December 7, 2009

Major Drug Bust

Santa Teresa – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at El Paso area ports of entry made one cocaine and several marijuana seizures during the last week. CBP officers confiscated a total of 53 pounds of cocaine and 1,156 pounds of marijuana. CBP officers working at ports of entry in the El Paso area seized 677 pounds of cocaine in all of fiscal year 2009.

"This is the largest cocaine seizure CBP officers at the Santa Teresa port of entry have made in more than five years," said Ana Hinojosa, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Director of Field Operations in El Paso. "Despite exceptionally heavy traffic on Saturday, CBP officers remained focused on their mission and were able to stop a sizeable drug load from entering the U.S."

CBP officers at the Santa Teresa port of entry confiscated 53.24 pounds of cocaine on Saturday. The seizure was made after a 2000 Honda Odyssey entered the port from Mexico. A CBP officer at the primary inspection booth noticed inconsistencies in statements given by the driver and referred the vehicle to secondary for further examination. CBP drug sniffing dog "Popeye" searched the vehicle and alerted to the glove compartment area. The vehicle was taken to a separate inspection area where an extensive inspection of the vehicle was conducted. CBP officers discovered 23 cocaine-filled packages concealed in a non-factory compartment in the front area of the dashboard in the firewall. The contents of the bundles tested positive for cocaine.

CBP officers at the port arrested the driver, 36-year-old Ruby Rodriguez, of Deming, New Mexico. She was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents to face federal charges including importation of a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

In addition to the drug seizures, CBP officers recorded 56 immigration violations at area ports this week including 43 intended immigrants and 13 imposters. Intended immigrants will use a legally issued border-crossing card (laser visa) to live or work in the U.S., which is not authorized. They also lose their documents and are generally returned to Mexico. Imposters generally will use a legitimate entry document assigned to another person and present it as their own. Violators generally lose their documents, can be prosecuted and go to jail and/or are returned to Mexico.

CBP officers working at area ports made a total of 22 fugitive apprehensions and located a missing juvenile during the period.

In addition to the drug busts, CBP officers working at ports of entry in El Paso, West Texas and New Mexico made three seizures of agricultural items. Violators paid $775 in penalties in association with the violations. Prohibited food products seized included tangerines, grapefruits, pomegranates and guavas.

While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.