NOGALES, Ariz. - U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Office of Field Operations interdicted a large drug smuggling attempt on Monday - seizing more than 11,000 pounds of marijuana in Nogales, Ariz.
During the course of an ongoing investigation, HSI agents in Nogales became aware of two trailers laden with marijuana that smugglers were attempting to move through the Mariposa Port of Entry. Agents identified one of the suspect vehicles near Industrial Park Drive, and then alerted CBP officers at the port of entry to be on the lookout for a second trailer. Agents followed the first vehicle to Bell Road, where the driver pulled over to unhook the trailer. Agents approached the driver and obtained consent to search the vehicle. A search of the trailer revealed a false compartment. A CBP canine unit responded to assist and positively alerted to the trailer.
At the port of entry, CBP officers identified the second trailer and referred it for further inspection. An X-ray revealed a false compartment in the front of the trailer and CBP K-9 positively alerted to the trailer. Further inspection revealed the compartment matched the one found in the first trailer.
"This team effort is a credit to the strong partnerships shared by DHS agencies like ICE and CBP in Arizona," said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Arizona.
The first trailer contained a total of 260 bales of marijuana weighing 6,013 pounds. The second trailer seized at the port of entry contained a total of 244 bales of marijuana weighing 5,686 pounds. Combined, the trailers contained 11,699 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $6.6 million.
"Significant interceptions of this magnitude involving DHS inter-agency cooperation should send a strong message to criminal organizations: we will not tolerate the exploitation of our borders," said David Higgerson, CBP Director of Field Operations in Arizona.
Both tractor trucks and semi-trailers were seized. The investigation is ongoing.