U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at ports of entry in El Paso, West Texas, and New Mexico identified and stopped more than 150 violations during the holiday weekend.
CBP officers seized drugs, identified immigration violations, apprehended fugitives, and confiscated prohibited agriculture items between Friday and Monday.
On of the more unusual seizures occurred Friday at the Bridge of the Americas when CBP officers discovered 66 pounds of marijuana hidden in a washing machine. The seizure began while CBP officers were examining vehicles that were waiting to approach the primary inspection station at the busy border crossing. CBP officers began inspecting a 1984 Ford Ranger that was transporting a new washer in a cardboard box and decided the vehicle needed additional scrutiny. CBP officers initiated an intensive exam of the washer and found that numerous marijuana-filled bundles were concealed inside the appliance.
“Drug smugglers are constantly changing their methods and practices. What doesn’t change is the vigilance of the CBP officer safeguarding our border,” said William Molaski, U.S. Customs and Border Protection El Paso Port Director. “While much of the nation was celebrating the nation’s independence CBP officers were hard at work making sure the American public could do so safely and without concern.”
CBP officers removed a total of 66 bundles from the washer. The marijuana weighed 66 pounds. CBP officers arrested the driver of the truck, 50-year-old Sergio Soriano Dominguez of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. He was turned over to the custody of the El Paso Police Department and booked into the El Paso County jail where he is currently detained. Area CBP officers made a total of six drug seizures during the holiday weekend seizing 427 pounds of marijuana in the process.
During the previous four days, area CBP officers uncovered 121 immigration violations. Intended immigrants made up the largest group of violators. A total of 48 were identified through thorough document exams. In these cases, individuals will use a legally issued border-crossing card (laser visa) to live or work in the U.S., which is not authorized. Violators generally lose their documents and are returned to Mexico.
CBP officers this week also identified 14 imposters while performing inspections at area ports. Imposters generally will use a legitimate entry document assigned to another person and present it as their own. An additional 15 people attempted to make illegal entry at area crossing points by making false claims to U.S. citizenship. CBP officers also recorded 44 cases of people attempting to enter with counterfeit or altered documents, visa overstay violations and people who had entered the country without inspection. Area CBP officers made eight seizures of prohibited food and agricultural items this weekend, resulting in $2,150 in fines being assessed. Prohibited items seized this week included pork lard, apples, oranges, avocados, mangoes, plums, apricots, guavas, and live plants.
CBP officers this weekend also identified 15 people who were being sought by various law enforcement agencies, recorded two export violations, seized smuggled ammunition, and recovered one stolen vehicle. While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.