A record-setting haul of illicit drugs worth more than $7 million was seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at the Otay Mesa border crossing Friday, the agency said.
Officials called the more than 3,100 pounds of methamphetamine, fentanyl powder, fentanyl pills and heroin discovered in boxes that were supposed to be full of medical supplies the second largest meth bust along the southwest border in the history of the agency.
The 47-year-old driver of the 18-wheeler from which the drugs were seized was arrested. The agency said the man, a citizen of Mexico, will face criminal charges brought by a joint investigative team from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The man’s name was not released.
Officials said the driver arrived at the cargo border crossing in Otay Mesa about 9:45 a.m. Friday and presented a manifest showing the tractor-trailer’s contents to be medical supplies. For reasons the agency did not detail, the officer decided to refer the truck for inspection.
After a drug-sniffing dog alerted authorities to the presence of narcotics, officers unloaded the truck and found 1,816 packages mixed in with medical supplies used primarily for sampling and dispensing liquids — clear plastic pipette tips, spray bottles of surface decontaminate and calibrated pipette tools. Border Patrol agents took custody of approximately 3,014 pounds of methamphetamine, 64 pounds of heroin, 29 pounds of fentanyl powder, and almost 37 pounds of fentanyl pills that have an estimated street value of $7.2 million.
“Smugglers will try every way possible to try and get their product across the border and because of the partnership between CBP, Homeland Security investigations and DEA this significant seizure occurred and we stopped them,” said Anne Maricich, acting CBP director of field operations in San Diego.
— Staff report