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Contraband
10/27/2009

Mexican authorities prosecuting marijuana smuggler following new agreement between US Department of Homeland Security, Mexico

NOGALES, Ariz. - A Mexican man, who was arrested by U.S. federal law enforcement officers for attempting to smuggle marijuana into the United States, will now be prosecuted under Mexican law; this is the first such prosecution of its kind under a new agreement aimed at reducing narcotics smuggling along Arizona's border with Mexico.

Eleazar Gonzalez-Sanchez, 27, of Santa Ana, Sonora, Mexico, was turned over to the Attorney General's Office of the Republic of Mexico (PGR) on Saturday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under the Controlled Substance Project, an agreement involving PGR, ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that enables PGR to prosecute, under Mexican law, drug smuggling cases.

"This agreement represents the commitment that U.S. and Mexican law enforcement agencies have in working together to find ways to stem the flow of narcotics across the border," said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Arizona. "Both nations recognize the violence and the corrupting influence that the illicit drug trade brings to our communities."

CBP officers assigned to the Dennis Deconcini Port of Entry in Nogales, Ariz. discovered 44 pounds of marijuana Saturday in a car driven by Gonzalez. The marijuana, concealed in a hidden compartment in the vehicle's trunk, was found after an officer noted Gonzalez's suspicious behavior and directed him to a secondary inspection station for a more thorough examination.

ICE agents responded to the scene and initiated a criminal investigation into the smuggling attempt. After consulting with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tucson, ICE agents contacted PGR to inform Mexican prosecutors of the case. PGR attorneys examined the evidence and accepted prosecution. ICE and CBP released Gonzalez, his personal effects and core samples of the marijuana to PGR.

A federal judge in Mexico on Monday found probable cause to proceed with the case, which Mexican prosecutors said was the first-known prosecution for transporting a controlled substances based on a criminal complaint from a foreign law enforcement agency.