CBP officers discover drug load in van ceiling compartment

SANTA TERESA, NM — U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations officers working at the Santa Teresa port of entry seized 323.5 pounds of marijuana Tuesday. The estimated street value of the drug load is $258,800. The seizure was the largest of five marijuana busts made by CBP officers working at the Santa Teresa and El Paso ports June 14.

  “This was a very large drug shipment that CBP officers identified and stopped at the port of entry,” said Ray Provencio, CBP Santa Teresa Port Director. “Smugglers will attempt to utilize any and all parts of a vehicle to hide their drug loads.”

  The seizure was made at approximately 11 a.m. when a 1993 Chevrolet Astro Van entered the port from Mexico. A CBP officer at the primary inspection station selected the van for a secondary exam. A CBP officer used a “Buster” density meter to check the vehicle and received high readings consistent with hidden contraband while checking the ceiling. CBP drug sniffing dog “Kyra” searched the van and also alerted to the ceiling area. The vehicle was scanned by the CBP x-ray system revealing anomalies in the appearance of the ceiling. CBP officers continued their exam and removed 299 marijuana-filled bundles from a ceiling compartment.

  CBP officers arrested the driver of the van, 44-year-old Ramon Antonio Rios Torres of El Paso, Texas. He was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI agents to face charges associated with the failed smuggling attempt.

  While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.


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