Police seized nearly half a million dollars worth of marijuana during two raids in late March and early April.
Federal border patrol agents stopped a truck near the Mexican border with New Mexico March 30 and found more than $100,000 worth of cannabis on board, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency said.
Though relatively small as smuggling hauls go, agents used the bust to tout the success of their war on cannabis.
“CBP officers are working hard to identify and stop any smuggling activity at the Santa Teresa Port,” said Ray Provencio, the agency’s port director at the Santa Teresa border crossing. “Another sizeable drug load was intercepted because of their commitment and attention to detail.”
Searched at N.M. inspection point
The truck, a 1994 Dodge Ram, was stopped shortly after 6 p.m. March 30 while trying to pass through an inspection point in Santa Teresa, N.M., north of the crossing between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. A border agent searched the vehicle and found bundles hidden under the dashboard.
The driver was arrested and CBP officers performed an x-ray scan of the truck, which detected “anomalies” stashed in hidden compartments throughout its frame: in the firewall, inside the doors, in the quarter panels, and in the sidewalls of the pickup bed.
Officers seized a total of 151 bundles containing processed marijuana, the agency said. The driver, a 43-year-old Mexican national named Jose Marquez Santillan, was arrested and handed over to Homeland Security agents for processing as an illegal immigrant.
5 kilos seized in Rhode Island
In Rhode Island, meanwhile, state police seized roughly $300,000 in cannabis from a New York man during a traffic stop. Bing Zhou Liu, 21, of Brooklyn was arrested and charged with two drug felonies, manufacture or possession of more than 5 kilograms of marijuana with intent to deliver and possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.
The bust occurred after Rhode Island troopers stopped a taxicab for speeding in the small town of Richmond. The cab driver said Liu, his passenger, had paid him $400 to transport five FedEx boxes to Massachusetts.
Troopers searched the cab and found the boxes, which allegedly contained 85 vacuum-wrapped packages of processed marijuana. Police said the cannabis was worth about $300,000, though estimates of this kind are typically inflated to help sell the war on drugs.
The Rhode Island State Police said Liu faces a potential life sentence over the drugs, even though marijuana is decriminalized for recreational use and legal for medical use in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.