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15 tons of marijuana seized at Otay Mesa crossing

MasterJayN100
MasterJayN100 real niggaz move in silenceSomewhere in this Big Ol WorldMembers Posts: 11,845 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited March 2015 in The Social Lounge
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OTAY MESA — In what was described as a “very risky” drug-smuggling attempt, more than 15 tons of marijuana stacked in bundles was seized from a tractor-trailer at the Otay Mesa border crossing. Federal officials said Friday it was the largest seizure ever at the port and the second-largest at any crossing in the country.

The driver, a 46-year-old Mexican citizen, was alone in the cab when he drove into the commercial port about 6 p.m. Thursday, according to a federal charging complaint. His shipment was labeled as mattresses and cushions.

The smuggling attempt is suspected of being tied to a drug cartel in Mexico, said Lauren Mack, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Diego. More commonly, drug smugglers would try other means, such as border tunnels, to try to move such a large shipment, Mack said.

Attempting to smuggle tons of marijuana in a truck through the busy Otay commercial port is “definitely very risky,” Mack said.

In the ongoing “cat-and-mouse” game that smugglers play to try to outsmart law enforcement, they are always trying new tactics, she said. In this case, “obviously they felt confident they were going to succeed,” she said. During an X-ray examination, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials identified an undisclosed “anomaly” in the trailer and the truck was sent to a dock, according to a statement sent by Customs and Border Patrol spokeswoman Jackie Wasiluk.

Agents asked the driver, identified as Martin Martinez-Penaflor, to cut the seal of the trailer and open the doors. Asked what he was carrying, according to the complaint, he replied, “mattresses.”

As the doors opened, officers saw stacks of plastic-wrapped packages.

“Almost the entire trailer was filled with those packages from floor to ceiling, front to back, although there were a few mattresses stacked along the wall at the opposite end of the trailer from the doors,” the statement said.

In all, there were nearly 1,300 packages. They weighed a total of nearly 32,000 pounds, much larger than the previous record seizure at the Otay port in 2003 of 19,999 pounds of marijuana, officials said.

Customs and Border Protection officials could not be reached for further details.

The amount came close to the record for the largest seizure ever at a border crossing in the United States. That was in Imperial County in July 2013, when 35,265 pounds of marijuana was seized at the Calexico East Port of Entry, officials said.

In that smuggling attempt, the marijuana was hidden from view in a tractor-trailer that was said to be carrying computer monitors. Customs and Border Protection officers found 2,471 packages of marijuana inside cardboard boxes behind pallets of computer parts.

Officials said at the time that the seizure dealt a significant blow to the drug-trafficking organizations operating in the region.

Martinez-Penaflor was booked into the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown San Diego and made an initial court appearance on Friday. He told authorities that he knew the trailer contained drugs, and said he was offered $50,000 to smuggle the marijuana the 150 miles from Tijuana to Burbank, according to the complaint.

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2015/feb/27/record-🤬 -seizure-at-border-15-tons-19-million/

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