Regional
6:51 pm
Tue November 24, 2009

NM Residents In Huge Heroin Bust

El Paso – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the El Paso port of entry seized 29.6 pounds of heroin in a single seizure Monday. Two residents of New Mexico were arrested in the bust.

"In the last two years area CBP officers seized a total of 44 pounds of heroin. Seizing two-thirds of that total in a single incident is an exceptionally important seizure," said Ana Hinojosa, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Director of Field Operations in El Paso. "The loss to the smuggling organization is significant but more importantly these drugs did not reach their intended audience where they could have caused untold harm."

The heroin seizure was made at about 6:00 p.m. at the Paso Del Norte international crossing in downtown El Paso. A CBP officer selected 1999 Mercury Cougar that arrived from Mexico for an intensive exam. CBP drug sniffing dog "Outlaw" searched the car and alerted to the floor. CBP officers initiated an intensive exam and located hidden compartments under both front seats. CBP officers removed a total of 12 bundles from the two compartments. They probed a bundle, producing a white powder substance which tested positive for heroin.

CBP officers arrested the driver, 18-year-old Juan Carlos Martinez of Chaparral, New Mexico and the passenger, 18-year-old Perla A. Ortiz of Anthony, New Mexico. Both were over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents after federal prosecution was secured. The suspects are currently being detained at the El Paso County Jail facing importation of a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance charges.

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.