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November 19, 2021San Diego, CA, United StatesNarcotics

ICE HSI seizes record-setting illegal drug shipment at San Diego land port of entry

SAN DIEGO – Federal agents at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry seized a commercial truck carrying more than 17,000 pounds of illegal drugs. The discovery is one of the largest drug seizures in U.S. history.

A federal indictment alleges Carlos Martin Quintana-Arias, 37, a citizen of Mexico, applied for entry into the U.S. with a manifest that identified the contents of his 1996 Stoug trailer as automotive body parts.

The complaint charges Quintana-Arias with importation of a controlled substance – a charge that carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a $10,000,00 fine.

“This record-breaking commercial seizure exemplifies the joint efforts of CBP and HSI employees, who work tirelessly each day to protect our ports of entry from the threats posed by drug cartels and other transnational criminal organizations,” said HSI San Diego Special Agent in Charge Chad Plantz. “Countless lives will be saved because of this historic seizure of methamphetamine and fentanyl, but make no mistake: drug cartels strive to exploit our borders to further their criminal enterprises every day.

During the Nov. 18 inspection of Quintana-Arias’s 2009 Kenworth tractor, an X-Ray machine detected anomalies in the truck’s trailer. A drug detection dog alerted the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers to the trailer.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) cargo-based smuggling agents took Quintana-Arias into custody after it was determined that the trailer contained more than 6,000 packages of methamphetamine and nearly 200 packages of fentanyl.

The HSI Border Enforcement Security Task Force and the San Diego Imperial Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force, in collaboration with CBP, remain vigilant in the mission to disrupt and dismantle every level of the cartels.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office – Southern District of California will prosecute the case against Quintana-Arias.

“This is a staggering seizure that demonstrates the extent of our current fight against mass production of methamphetamine and fentanyl. But for the vigilance of our law enforcement partners, this record-breaking deluge of drugs would have caused incredible damage in our communities.” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “We commend our partner agencies for their tireless work and dedication to preventing these dangerous and deadly drugs from entering our country.”

“Customs and Border Protection is extremely fortunate to have CBP officers with phenomenal skills that enabled them to identify anomalies, leading to use of our technology to confirm and intercept the largest Methamphetamine and Fentanyl seizure nationally within the last two years” said Pete Flores, Director of Field Operations for the San Field Office. “Our vigilance is critical to our mission and we will continue to make our homeland and communities safer by making sure these dangerous drugs are intercepted.”

HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

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