CBP officers seize close to $3 million in cocaine at Pharr port of entry

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

POSTED: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - 9:11am

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 9:52am

Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations at the Hidalgo and Pharr International Bridges seized $2,900,000 worth of cocaine in two separate, unrelated incidents and arrested two women from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico in connection with the failed smuggling attempts.

“Our CBP officers were busy this weekend with enforcement actions as evidenced by these two interceptions of hard narcotics that were effected at two of our international bridges,” said Efrain Solis Jr., Port Director, Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas. “The detection of child smugglers is also a key priority with CBP Field Operations, and those involved in these illicit activities will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The first narcotics seizure occurred on Friday morning, February 7, 2014 after CBP officers working at the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge encountered a white 2005 Ford 500 driven by a 40-year-old female Mexican citizen. After presenting her Mexican passport with U.S. visa, a CBP officer referred her and the vehicle to secondary for a more thorough inspection. During the course of the examination and with the use of a vehicle non-intrusive imaging system, officers discovered packages of suspected narcotics hidden within the Ford.
CBP-OFO seized 24 packages of alleged cocaine weighing approximately 29.14 kilograms (64.25 lbs.) with an estimated street value of $2,100,000 and also seized the vehicle.

On the same date and border crossing later that evening, CBP officers came in contact with a 35-year-old female U.S. citizen from Houston, Texas who was in the company of a 13-year-old female child. The two female travelers arrived at the pedestrian walkway and the adult female presented a U.S. birth certificate for herself and for the young female, who she claimed was her daughter. A CBP officer referred them to secondary for further inspection and document review. After further examination, officers discovered that the child was not related to the adult female and was in fact a Mexican citizen from Oaxaca, Mexico without valid documents to legally enter or reside in the United States.

The second narcotics interception occurred at noon on Saturday, February 8 at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge after CBP officers encountered a grey 2009 Toyota Camry driven by 50-year-old female Mexican citizen. After presenting her Mexican border-crossing card, a CBP officer referred her and the vehicle to secondary for further inspection and it was there and also with the use of a non-intrusive imaging system that officers discovered packages of alleged cocaine concealed within the Camry. CBP-OFO seized the vehicle and ten packages of cocaine weighing approximately 11.38 kilograms (25.10 lbs.) which carry an estimated street value of $800,000.

CBP-OFO arrested the three female travelers and the two involved with the failed narcotics smuggling attempts were released to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents for further investigation. The female attempting to smuggle the female child will be incarcerated pending appearance with a U.S. Federal Magistrate on criminal charges for alleged violation of U.S. Immigration Law. The minor child was released to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS-ORR) facility.

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