USBP 'betrayed' by pot bust worth $4.5 million

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The following news release was sent by U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

NOGALES - On Monday January 12th, trust was betrayed when U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers at the Nogales Port of Entry seized 2,822 pounds of marijuana.The marijuana was commingled with a shipment of wiring harnesses being transported by a company that participates in the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program.

Officers at the Nogales Port of Entry became suspicious of the truck as it attempted to make entry into the United States and decided to send the shipment for an X-ray inspection to determine if contraband was hidden in the trailer.Before the tractor and trailer could even make it to the X-ray unit for inspection, one of the CBP narcotics detection dogs alerted to the presence of narcotics in the trailer.At that point the driver was removed from the truck and the X-ray exam was conducted.

The image from the X-ray inspection confirmed both the officer's suspicion and the K-9 alert to the presence of narcotics hidden in the shipment.Upon further examination, 110 packages of marijuana with a street value of over $4.5 million were discovered.As a result of the discovery, the driver was arrested and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for further investigation and the narcotics, tractor and trailer were seized by CBP.

Of particular interest in this case is the fact that the companies transporting and receiving this shipment are participants in the C-TPAT program.The C-TPAT program was developed following the events of September 11th with the intent to secure the supply chain used to import merchandise into the United States.The companies that volunteer for this program are identified by CBP as a low risk threat for smuggling and the companies must implement security procedures that will prevent weapons of mass effect and contraband from being commingled with their shipments.Once a company implements the required security procedures, representatives from CBP visit the company and verify that the procedures are in place and that the company is abiding by the rules of the program.

As an incentive to participate in this program, the participants receive many privileges such as a lower amount of random exams.Since CBP examines these shipments less frequently, some people see this as an opportunity to smuggle.However, CBP officers have long known about this misconception and are ready to exploit smugglers' ignorance. This seizure is a perfect example of how CBP uses a common misconception to thwart smuggling attempts.As a result of this seizure, the C-TPAT companies' privileges have been suspended until CBP can further investigate the events that transpired.

The Office of Field Operations is responsible for securing our borders at the ports of entry.U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers' primary mission is anti-terrorism; they screen all people, conveyances, and goods entering the United States, while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel into and out of the United States.Their mission also includes carrying out traditional border-related responsibilities, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration law, protecting the nation's food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases, and enforcing trade laws.