U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Otay Mesa Cargo Facility discovered more than $10 million worth of hard narcotics hidden in a trailer full of of jalapeno paste yesterday on December 13.
At approximately 10:36 a.m., CBP said it encountered a 28-year-old male driving a commercial tractor-trailer with a shipment manifested as jalapeno paste. The driver, a valid border crossing card holder, was referred for further examination by CBP officers along with the tractor-trailer and shipment.
Just two months prior, in another truck at Pharr International Bridge, CBP seized $253,000 in cocaine from a shipment enrolled in CBP’s Trusted Trader Program, meant to strengthen security measures to stamp out terrorism and other illegal activities.
This time, at a secondary inspection area, a CBP K-9 unit screened the shipment and alerted officers to examine the trailer more closely.
Upon further examination, CBP officers discovered and extracted a total of 349 suspicious packages from the vats of jalapeno paste. CBP said it tested contents of the packages and identified them as methamphetamine with a weight of more than 3,000 pounds and cocaine with a weight of more than 500 pounds.
“Our K-9 teams are an invaluable component of our counter-narcotics operations, providing a reliable and unequalled mobile detection capability,” said Rosa Hernandez, Otay Mesa Port Director. “By implementing local operations under Operation Apollo and CBP’s Strategy to Combat Fentanyl and other Synthetic Drugs, we will continue to secure communities and stifle the growth of transnational criminal organizations, one seizure after another.”
CBP officers carefully extracted hundreds of packages from the containers of jalapeno paste, taking the narcotics and trailer while the driver was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations for "further processing."
The estimated street value for more than 3,000 pounds of meth and 500 pounds of cocaine? Around $10,430,000, CBP said.
In total, 332 packages of methamphetamine and cocaine weighing 3,684 pounds were seized from the shipment. But these thousands of pounds were only a drop in the bucket, as the San Diego Field Office of CPB alone seized a total of more than 14,000 pounds of narcotics from border crossers in November alone.