Border Patrol agents in southeastern California are seeing an uptick in the number of drug seizures inside the United States after the narcotics have been illegally smuggled into the country, a senior agent told the Washington Examiner.
Most of the drugs seized are stopped on local highways at one of the region's three immigration checkpoints; permanent secondary fixtures meant to halt the smuggling of people and contraband that made it over the border.
Federal agents from the El Centro sector are seeing a spike in the number of drug smuggling incidents as well as the amount of dope they are finding in seizures since Aug. 1, according to the USBP.
"It's something that we certainly have brought to the attention of our stakeholders, headquarters and lawmakers in the area," Joshua Devack, assistant chief patrol agent at the border patrol’s El Centro Sector, told the Washington Examiner in a phone call late Monday, August 19.
August 1 agents arrested two U.S. citizens near Calexico suspected of accepting $475,000 worth of cocaine and methamphetamine other personnel saw drop from an ultralight aircraft on the American side of the border.
That same day, a 32-year-old Mexican man was arrested at the Highway 86 checkpoint after agents found $2.5 million worth of cocaine, meth, and heroin in the back of his truck.
Agents at the same checkpoint found $96,000 worth of meth in the gas tank of a 19-year-old U.S. man August 5. That same day, checkpoint personnel detected $43,000 worth of fentanyl and heroin on another 19-year-old U.S. man who tried to take a taxi cab through the stop.
On August 7, a 41-year-old U.S. man was arrested after Highway 86 checkpoint agents found $158,000 worth of black tar heroin and fentanyl in a false car battery.
The next day, agents at the highway stop arrested a 24-year-old U.S. man and found $63,000 worth of meth hidden inside his vehicle door. The majority of the arrests were announced by the El Centro Sector locally, but not published on Customs and Border Protection's main website.
CBP spokesman Ralph DeSio shared with the Washington Examiner another recent incident that took place when agents from Salton City discovered $637,000 worth of fentanyl and liquid meth during a standard stop at its Highway 86 checkpoint August 16.
An American woman driving a white Ford F-150 attempted to pass through the vehicle inspection booth when a border patrol K9 trained to smell for narcotics alerted his handler to the truck. Agents then inserted a gas tank scope to see if the driver had hidden something contraband inside. They found 196 pounds of liquid meth and 1,000 fentanyl pills.
“Liquid meth and fentanyl are two of the most dangerous illegal narcotics being smuggled into the United States,” said acting El Centro Sector Chief Patrol Agent Ryan Scudder in a statement. Fortunately, our agents were able to successfully seize these drugs and keep them out of our communities.”
Devack said the sector is paying extra attention to this trend and considering why they are seizing more drugs. He said smugglers could be sending more on the highways because it is so hot right now and they don’t think K9s and agents would be manning the outdoor checkpoints.
The woman and the majority of suspects were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration and are being investigated for any possible connection between the incidents.