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Friday, April 22, 2011

Arizona CBP Officers Seize 4 Tons of Marijuana Worth $41 Million

Nogalas, Ariz. – In less than 24 hours, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Port of Nogales, Ariz. stopped two inbound and one outbound smuggling attempts. More than 8,000 pounds of marijuana in commercial shipments of charcoal and more than 15,000 rounds of ammunition hidden in a pickup truck were seized. Three people were arrested in connection with the failed smuggling attempts.

“This is why our officers are here and are ready to deal with whatever comes their way,” said Port Director Guadalupe Ramirez. “We want to hit these criminal organizations on both sides by catching the drugs coming in and the ammunition going out.”

At approximately 8 p.m. on April 18, CBP officers screening commercial vehicles and shipments coming into the country targeted a tractor-trailer with a shipment of charcoal for inspection. The vehicle was referred for an X-ray examination and physical inspection of the shipment. During the inspection, officers discovered 342 bales of marijuana hidden inside sacks of charcoal. The narcotics weighing more than 4,017 pounds, with an estimated value of more than $20 million, was seized along with the vehicle. The driver, a 47-year-old male from Guasave, Sinaloa, was arrested and turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation.

Within 30 minutes, CBP officers selected another commercial vehicle with a shipment of charcoal for inspection. During the physical inspection of the charcoal, officers discovered 300 bales of marijuana hidden inside the bags. Officers seized the more than 4,243 pounds of the narcotic, with an estimated value of more than $21 million, along with the vehicle. The driver, a 33-year-old male from Nogales, Sonora, was arrested and turned over to ICE for further investigation.

At approximately 2:45 p.m. on April 19, CBP officers conducting outbound operations targeted a 1995 Ford Pickup, driven by a 42-year-old male from Nogales, Sonora, for further inspection. Subsequently, officers discovered boxes of ammunition hidden inside the spare tire and gas tank of the vehicle. More than 15,000 rounds of ammunition in a variety of calibers were seized. The driver was arrested and turned over to ICE for further investigation.

In March 2009, the Department of Homeland Security launched the Southwest Border Initiative to bring unprecedented focus and intensity to securing the Southwest border, coupled with a reinvigorated, smart, and effective approach to enforcing our immigration laws.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

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