Wednesday, May 8, 2013



Note: might be looking like a pattern here. The "seam" between Yuma
and Tucson sectors.

Agents arrest 21, seize 783 pounds of pot
May 03, 2013 4:48 PM

Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents arrested 21 suspected drug smugglers
and seized 783 pounds of marijuana worth about $390,000 Wednesday and
Thursday during three separate incidents.

The first incident happened Wednesday night when agents using night
vision equipment working about 20 miles west of Gila Bend spotted a
group of 17 individuals walking through the desert.

The group of men, all citizens of Mexico, was apprehended. They were
allegedly carrying 503 pounds of marijuana they had trafficked
through the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. The men and pot
were turned over to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

On Thursday, a group of four Mexican citizens allegedly carrying 143
pounds of marijuana was caught south of Gila Bend. The men and drugs
were turned over to MCSO.

Later Thursday, agents came upon an additional 137 pounds of
marijuana abandoned in the Mohawk Mountains. Agents seized the drugs
for destruction.

Read more:

Note: what a surprise.

Meth smuggling on the rise through Santa Cruz County

A Border Patrol agent displays the one-pound package of
methamphetamine found stuffed in the underwear of this 18-year-old
suspect on April 24 at the Border Patrol's I-19 checkpoint.

Posted: Friday, May 3, 2013 8:29 am | Updated: 9:42 am, Fri May 3, 2013.
By Curt Prendergast
Nogales International

On Sunday, a drug-sniffing dog working at the Mariposa Port of Entry
led officers to a million-dollar discovery: 61 pounds of
methamphetamine hidden throughout a Mercury sedan.
The discovery and subsequent arrest of the car's driver was just the
latest of what has been an increasing number of meth busts at the
Nogales ports of entry and immigration checkpoint on Interstate 19.
Authorities blame a rising flow of meth from the Sinaloa Cartel's
super-labs, which can churn out hundreds of pounds of the highly
addictive and destructive drug each month.
"There has been a noticeable increase in meth coming through Santa
Cruz County, especially in recent months," said Eric Balliet,
assistant special agent in charge of the Nogales station for U.S.
Immigration and Custom Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations,
which processes many of the people busted at local ports and the
In most cases, the county is "more of a transit point" than a
destination, Balliet said, with the meth that passes through the area
headed for cities and towns across the United States.
The county is not the only area seeing a proliferation of meth
smuggling. Statewide, seizures of meth have increased from 414
kilograms in fiscal year 2009 to 1,935 kilograms in 2012, according
to information provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The increased flow of meth from Mexico is largely the result of a
crackdown on production labs in rural areas of the U.S. and
restrictions placed on the purchase of pseudoephedrine, a precursor
ingredient for meth, said DEA spokesperson Ramona Sanchez.
As a result of those efforts, the number of meth labs in the U.S.
"has fallen dramatically," she said. In their place, meth labs in
Mexico have increased in number, especially the large-scale
clandestine labs controlled by the Sinaloa Cartel, she said.
The meth is taken from those labs and funneled along already
established smuggling avenues, Sanchez said, "so it's just like
adding another lucrative product or commodity to their smuggling route."
In many cases, those super-labs are supplied with precursor
ingredients shipped from East Asia to the Port of Guaymas, located in
the state of Sonora directly south of Nogales on Federal Highway 15,
said Jesus Lozania, a special agent with ICE and supervisor of the
Santa Cruz County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task
The shipments of precursor ingredients to ports on Mexico's Pacific
Coast are controlled by the Sinaloa Cartel, which is a key reason why
the organization run by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman dominates the meth
trade, Lozania said.
Meth is an attractive commodity for smugglers because of its
"exceptionally high" profit margin, Balliet said. While cocaine,
heroin, and marijuana are derived from cultivated crops, often in
South America, meth can be manufactured quickly from chemicals in
labs located anywhere, he said.
In addition, drug-sniffing dogs have a harder time finding meth than
more aromatic drugs like marijuana, Lozania said.
"Even a 15-year-old dog is going to be able to smell a load of
marijuana," he said.
Smuggling strategies
Attempts to smuggle meth into the U.S. generally follow two patterns:
"deep concealment" and "body carriers," Balliet said.
The deep concealment tactic is most often used in vehicles, he said,
where the meth is hidden in driveshafts, axles, tires, and roofs.
"You name it, they can basically create a compartment out of it," he
Examples of deep concealment attempts abound in recent reports of CBP
On Jan. 25, a half-million dollars worth of meth was discovered in
packets hidden throughout a car at the Dennis DeConcini Port of
Entry. On March 24, a drug-sniffing dog helped customs officers find
12 pounds of meth hidden in the floorboards of a pickup truck at the
Mariposa Port of Entry. Three days later, 15 pounds of meth was found
in the dashboard and center console of a Toyota sedan.
In the body carrier method, the meth is packaged tightly and either
strapped to a person's body or hidden in a carrying case, Balliet said.
Again, examples of this tactic abound.
On March 27, a man tried to smuggle a pound of meth in his pants as
he walked through the DeConcini port, an attempt that was repeated by
another man on April 25.
Perhaps the most bizarre example of body carrying was a bust on Feb.
21 in which six pounds of meth were found in buckets of chicken.
While local meth smuggling attempts are concentrated at federal
facilities and, as authorities say, involve shipments meant for sale
and use outside of Santa Cruz County, the uptick still has local
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix says that their prosecution of
meth distributors in southern Arizona has held steady in recent years
at 100-125 cases annually. Meanwhile, the Santa Cruz County
Attorney's Office has seen an increase in the number of meth-related
cases they've handled, with 23 such cases since last July, said
Deputy County Attorney Liliana Ortega.
Punishment for meth-smuggling convictions, whether in state or
federal court, can be stiff.
On Nov. 26, 2012, Judge Anna Montoya-Paez of Santa Cruz County
Superior Court sentenced Cesar Torres Burruel, a 23-year-old sushi
seller from Nogales, Sonora, to 3.5 years in state prison for trying
to smuggle 1.1 pounds of methamphetamine into the United States
through the Morley pedestrian gate.
And on March 12, 2012, Judge James A. Soto, also of Santa Cruz County
Superior Court, sent Ruben Barnett-Leal, 40, of Nogales, Sonora to
prison for four years after a Nogales Police Department K-9 officer
and his dog discovered more than 22 pounds of methamphetamine hidden
on Barnett's pickup during a traffic stop on I-19.
Both of those cases were adjudicated through plea agreements. Claudio
Romo-Chavez, a 38-year-old Mexican national who was caught trying to
smuggle more than 12 lbs. of methamphetamine through the DeConcini
port in his vehicle's gas tank, was later convicted by a federal jury
of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and
importation of methamphetamine.
In September 2010, a judge at U.S. District Court in Tucson sentenced
him to 10 years in federal prison.


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