Border Patrol seizes drugs worth $800,000, arrests five

By Debbi Baker
Union-Tribune Staff Writer
11:11 a.m. July 9, 2009

SAN DIEGO — Border Patrol agents on Tuesday seized almost $800,000 worth of cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, marijuana and heroin hidden in vehicles in four separate incidents in the county.

Officials said that in three of the cases, the smugglers employed elaborate smuggling methods, concealing the drugs inside modified compartments and engine parts of the vehicles. In the fourth, drugs were found in a backpack.

Two of the seizures took place at the Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 8 in Pine Valley.

Around 2 p.m., a drug-sniffing dog signaled to its handler that there might be drugs in a Ford F-150 pickup. Agents found 13.6 pounds of cocaine valued at $136,700 and 6 pounds of crystal meth estimated to be worth about $136,000 concealed inside the transmission fluid pan of the truck. A 35-year-old man from Mexico was arrested.

The second checkpoint seizure, at 7:40 p.m., resulted in the confiscation of 121 pounds of marijuana worth about $73,000 that was concealed in the gas tank of an SUV. A 19-year-old Mexican national was taken into custody.

In Fallbrook at 5:30 p.m., agents stopped a Nissan Maxima near Old Highway 395 and Pala Mesa Road and found four packages of heroin, weighing about 6 pounds and valued at almost $60,000, concealed in a modified compartment in a bumper. Each bundle was shaped like the sole of a shoe, officials said.

A 25-year-old driver and a 49-year-old woman, both from Mexico, were arrested.

The last seizure was at the checkpoint in San Clemente at 10:30 p.m., where almost 17 pounds of crystal meth was found in a backpack inside a Nissan Maxima. The meth was estimated to have a street value of $390,540.

The 27-year-old driver, a Mexican national, was arrested.
Between Oct. 1 and June 30, Border Patrol agents seized 24,116 pounds of marijuana, 1,077 pounds of cocaine, 198 pounds of meth and 268 ounces of heroin in the San Diego sector.

Debbi Baker: (619) 293-1710;

Debbi Baker: (619) 293-1710; ... ugs111122/