As the largest international border town in Arizona, Nogales is highly tempting to drug smugglers who try a variety of novel ways to transport drugs from Mexico into the US. However, many drug smugglers stay old school and try to transport illegal drugs using their vehicles.
The vigilance of border patrol agents combined with the expertise of their K-9 officers thwarts many of these efforts. On March 16, 2015 alone, US Customs and Border Protection officers foiled three separate attempts to smuggle drugs through the Port of Nogales. They seized a total of $483,000 in drugs on that day.
The intuition of border patrol officers led them to stop a Ford SUV for further inspection at the Mariposa crossing. A narcotics canine detected the presence of drugs in the dashboard leading the officers to find nearly 38 pounds of cocaine worth almost $394,000 in the vehicle driven by Melesio Rivera of Tucson.
The second largest seizure took place when officers stopped a Honda sedan driven by Jessica Gastelum-Estrada. These officers found nearly $54,000 worth of cocaine in the car’s battery. This seizure at the Dennis DeConcini crossing netted five pounds of the drug.
An additional inspection of an SUV at the Mariposa Crossing led to the discovery of both marijuana and methamphetamine. The officers’ narcotics detection canine led to the discovery of drugs in the floor of the car. They recovered nearly 33 pounds of marijuana worth $16,000 along with more than six pounds of meth that was worth nearly $19,000. The culprit in this case was Martin Borquez-Burrola of Mexico.
The officers seized all of the drugs and vehicles and turned the drug smugglers over to the ICE Homeland Security Investigations.