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October 20, 2022San Diego, CA, United StatesNarcotics

Record-breaking fentanyl, meth seizure results in Mexican national sentenced 108 months in prison following HSI San Diego investigation

SAN DIEGO – A Mexican national man was sentenced Oct. 14 in federal court to 108 months in prison in connection with the record-breaking seizure of 17,584 pounds of methamphetamine and 388.93 pounds of fentanyl from a commercial trailer attempting to enter the United States at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. The seizure, on Nov.18, 2021, was the nation’s largest in each drug category for the calendar years 2021 and 2022 so far, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated this case.

Carlos Martin Quintana-Arias, of Mexico, admitted to driving the drug-laden tractor trailer into the United States through the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. He acknowledged that he knew the tractor trailer contained methamphetamine, fentanyl, or some other federally controlled substance.

“This was a brazen attempt to smuggle a record amount of deadly narcotics into our country, and as this sentencing reflects, those persons looking to make a quick profit from narcotics smuggling will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted,” said Chad Plantz, special agent in charge, HSI San Diego. “HSI, along with our federal and local partners, is firmly committed to dismantling criminal organizations who blatantly ignore the laws of this nation.”

“This massive seizure prevented a huge quantity of deadly drugs from saturating our community,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “Because of the vigilance of border officials, this fentanyl did not kill anyone, and this meth did not destroy even one life. We will continue to work with dedication and passion to intercept these drugs and prosecute the traffickers, because drug seizures mean lives are saved.” Grossman thanked the prosecution team and investigating agencies for their excellent work on this case.

“The San Diego and Imperial Valley ports of entry account for approximately 61 percent of all the fentanyl CBP seizes nationwide,” stated Acting Director of Field Operations for the San Diego Field Office Anne Maricich. “This significant seizure exemplifies the hard work and dedication our officers have to the mission. It is our steadfast commitment to keeping dangerous narcotics like fentanyl and methamphetamine off the streets and out of our communities. The sentencing announced today by Judge Janis L. Sammartino is a result of strong multiagency cooperation and local departments working towards a common goal.”

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 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 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.