OTAY MESA, Calif. — Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Feb. 23 found more than just produce in a commercial shipment of papayas: Mingled with the tropical fruit were 12,000 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $27 million.
At about 5:45 p.m., a tractor-trailer, driven by a 50-year-old male Mexican citizen, arrived at the Otay Mesa port of entry with a shipment manifested as fresh papayas. The driver and tractor-trailer were referred to the port’s X-ray imaging system.
During the nonintrusive inspection, a CBP officer noticed anomalies within the shipment and referred the truck and trailer for a more intensive examination. After a CBP narcotic detector K-9 alerted agents to the cargo, officers searched the shipment and discovered 873 wrapped packages of marijuana mixed in with the papayas.
The driver was turned over to agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) who later transported him to the Metropolitan Correction Center (MCC) in San Diego. The truck, trailer and drugs were seized by CBP officers.
“CBP officers are vigilant to stop those who intend to do harm in our communities and at the border, as they attempt to enter the U.S.,” said Anne Maricich, acting director of field operations for CBP in San Diego. “Their enforcement efforts and experience are put to the test regularly, and the results are phenomenal as their focus is always to protect this country.”
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