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New U.S.-Mexico agreement nets third drug prosecution along Arizona border

NOGALES, Ariz. - A Mexican man caught by U.S. federal law enforcement officers attempting to smuggle marijuana into the United States will be the third person prosecuted under an agreement aimed at reducing narcotics smuggling along Arizona's border with Mexico.

Alfonso Romero-Quintana, 37, of Carbo, Sonora, Mexico, was turned over to the Attorney General's Office of the Republic of Mexico (PGR) yesterday 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.

CBP officers assigned to the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, Ariz. discovered 47 pounds of marijuana in a Chevrolet Cheyenne driven by Romero. The marijuana, concealed in vehicle's gas tank, 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 Romero, his personal effects and core samples of the marijuana to PGR.

PGR's acceptance of the case marks the third such prosecution since U.S. and Mexican officials entered into the agreement in September. U.S. officials referred Eleazar Gonzalez-Sanchez to Mexican authorities on Oct. 24 and Manuel Ignacio Figueroa-Martinez on Nov. 11.

"U.S. and Mexican law enforcement agencies are continuing to work together to ensure that there are consequences for criminal behavior," said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Arizona. "Under this agreement, criminals who seek to escape responsibility for their actions are now finding prosecutors on both sides of the border who are eager to bring them to justice."