June 22, 2016

Border Report

Yuma Border Patrol agents arrest drug, human smugglers

Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents arrested smugglers transporting humans and more than $167,000 in narcotics during separate incidents over a three-day period.

On June 16, agents apprehended a male U.S. citizen and three foreign nationals after finding more than 5 pounds of methamphetamine, valued in excess of $26,000, and a loaded handgun during a traffic stop near Wikieup.  The passengers, a Honduran national and two Mexican nationals, were determined to be in the U.S. illegally.

Early June 18, agents arrested a male Mexican national illegally present in the U.S. after stopping a vehicle observed circumventing the checkpoint by passing through Dome Valley. Agents also discovered and seized approximately 214 pounds of marijuana, valued at more than $96,000, in the vehicle’s trunk.

On June 20, agents arrested a male Mexican national at the Border Patrol checkpoint on the eastbound lanes of Interstate 8, east of Yuma.  The driver of the vehicle was referred to secondary inspection after a Border Patrol agent observed suspicious behavior.  Agents performing a follow-up search with a canine discovered 23 pounds of methamphetamine, worth more than $69,000, concealed in the vehicle’s engine compartment.

Federal law allows agents to charge individuals by complaint, a method that allows the filing of charges for criminal activity without inferring guilt. An individual is presumed innocent unless or until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents effectively combat smuggling organizations attempting to illegally transport people and contraband through southwestern Arizona and California. Citizens can help the Border Patrol and U.S. Customs and Border Protection by calling 1-866-999-8727 toll-free to report suspicious activity. Callers can remain anonymous.

Nogales CBP Officers Seize Drugs, Unreported Currency

Customs and Border Protection officers arrested two U.S. citizens and four Mexican nationals during weekend smuggling attempts at the Port of Nogales, resulting in the seizure of nearly 145 pounds of drugs worth more than $155,000. A separate smuggling attempt involved the seizure of more than $145,000 in cash. 

Officers first referred a 21-year-old male U.S. citizen and his two passengers – an 18-year-old female U.S. citizen and a 21-year-old male Mexican national male – for further inspection when they attempted to pass through the Dennis DeConcini crossing on June 17. During the inspection, officers found more than 10 pounds of meth, worth in excess of $31,000, hidden beneath the shifter.

A short time later, officers at the DeConcini crossing referred a 49-year-old Mexican woman for a secondary inspection of her Ford SUV. After a CBP narcotics-detection canine alerted to the rear of the vehicle, officers located almost 24 pounds of meth valued at nearly $72,000.

That night officers referred a Mexican couple, 36-year-old man and his 28-year-old female passenger for further inspection of his Dodge truck at the Nogales West Mariposa crossing. After a CBP narcotics-detection canine alerted to truck’s roof and seats, officers removed close to 107 pounds of marijuana worth almost $54,000.

The following day (June 18), officers conducting routine outbound inspections referred a 46-year-old Mexican man for an inspection of his Chevrolet SUV at the DeConcini crossing. Officers found more than $145,000 in unreported U.S. currency in the vehicle’s rear quarter panels.

Officers seized the vehicles, currency and drugs, and turned the subjects over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents seize more than one million dollars’ worth of narcotics
Over a four-day period beginning last Monday, drug seizures increased significantly at and around immigration checkpoints in Yuma Sector. More than 100 pounds of narcotics, with an estimated value of more than one million dollars were seized during that period.

On Monday night, June 13, Border Patrol agents arrested a male Mexican national illegally in the U.S., during a traffic stop near Wikieup. Agents discovered and seized nearly 10 pounds of methamphetamine, with an estimated value of more than $29,000.

On Tuesday morning, a Legal Permanent Resident attempted to drive through the immigration checkpoint on Interstate 8, east of Yuma. A canine alert resulted in the vehicle being sent to secondary inspection, where nearly 17 pounds of methamphetamine was discovered.  The drugs were valued in excess of $50,000. 

On Wednesday morning, agents detected the odor of marijuana coming from a vehicle at the Highway 95 immigration checkpoint, and called for a canine team.  The canine alerted to the vehicle, and it was referred to secondary inspection.  A search resulted in the seizure of nearly eight pounds of pure brown heroin, with a value estimated at more than $137,000.

A second seizure on Wednesday occurred after a vehicle was observed circumventing the checkpoint by passing through Dome Valley. A canine team conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle and the canine alerted, resulting in the seizure of more than six pounds of methamphetamine.  The meth had an estimated value of more than $19,000.

Today, a Yuma Sector canine alerted to a vehicle driven a by a U.S. citizen attempting to pass through the Highway 95 checkpoint, resulting in the seizure of nearly 70 pounds of cocaine, worth an estimated $790,000.

“These significant drug seizures illustrate the continued threat posed by smugglers attempting to bring illegal drugs into our country,” said Acting Chief Patrol Agent Mario Villarreal.  “Due to the continued vigilance of Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents, these narcotics were removed from our community and the streets of our great

CBP Officers Upend Creative Smuggling Tactics

Customs and Border Protection officers arrested two men Monday (June 13) connected to separate smuggling attempts at the Port of Nogales.

Officers first referred a 19-year-old Nogales, Arizona man for further inspection after crossing through the Morley Pedestrian Gate. Officers were inspecting a bag the man said contained food items when they discovered nearly a pound of methamphetamine worth more than $3,000. The drugs were disguised as tamales.

Later, officers at the Dennis DeConcini crossing referred a 37-year-old man for a secondary inspection of his GMC truck. A CBP narcotics detection canine alerted officers to nearly 264 pounds of marijuana concealed in a shipment of brick pavers. The drugs are valued at more than $132,000.

Officers seized the vehicle and drugs, and turned both subjects over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Joint CBP Operation from the Air and Mountaintop Results in Criminal Scout Camp Takedown
Tucson Sector Special Operations Detachment (SOD) Border Patrol agents and Air and Marine Operations (AMO) Tucson Air Branch agents successfully carried out an intra-agency operation on May 20, which took place from the air and continued down a mountain top to arrest scouts working for a transnational criminal organization. The scouting camp was fixed high atop a steep Sonoran Desert mountainside in the Silver Bell mountain range outside of Arizona City, Arizona.

The observation post was targeted after AMO agents flying in a CE550 Cessna Citation aircraft on a reconnaissance mission spotted two scouts dressed in camouflage earlier in the day. Once air agents pinpointed the location, they reported their observations back to the Tucson Air Branch.

After planning and coordination, the operation kicked off that evening with AMO agents flying to the identified location in a UH-60 Black Hawk loaded with Border Patrol SOD agents. SOD agents fast-roped down to the mountain top as the helicopter hovered above its peak, where the scouts were operating from a makeshift post in a mountain-side cave. One of the scouts attempted to flee after a SOD agent spotted him hiding in the cave. The scout was apprehended after a foot chase which ended approximately 30-feet from a cliff with a dangerous and potentially fatal drop to jagged rocks below.

Tucson Sector Chief Patrol Agent Paul Beeson said this operation is one of many examples which illustrate the dangers Border Patrol agents face day-to-day.

“Agents jumping out of helicopters onto mountain tops is dangerous enough on its own,” he said. “The risk of injury or death to everyone involved is increased more so when you add having to pursue dangerous criminals in a harsh environment.”

AMO Tucson Air Branch Director of Operations Mitch Pribble said these types of operations have an element of risk from the air as well.

“It takes a great amount of training, expertise and precision by our aircraft crew to operate the Black Hawk during insertion operations over mountain ranges,” he said. “This is indicative of the dangers and challenges air agents face every time they depart for an enforcement mission. There is no room for error when keeping an aircraft that large steady in gusty cross-winds among narrow mountain peaks to enable other agents to descend as safely as possible.”

These joint operations, which illustrate how the integration of assets can overcome environmental challenges, resulted in the seizure of a large cache of counter-surveillance equipment and one suspect facing federal criminal charges.