Drug load found in hidden compartment inside rail car

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

EL PASO - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at the El Paso port of entry seized 427 pounds of marijuana Monday. The drugs were concealed in a rail car that entered the port from Mexico.

The seizure was made early Monday morning when a train pulling 74 cars arrived for inspection at the CBP rail inspection facility near downtown El Paso. The train was scanned with a gamma ray system as part of CBP's layered enforcement. A CBP officer reviewing the scan of the moving train spotted an anomaly in the appearance of an empty hopper rail car.

CBP officers segregated the rail car and requested a canine sweep.CBP drug sniffing dog "Hasko" searched the car and alerted to the same area of the rail car where the anomaly had been previously identified. CBP officers searched the rail car and located a disguised access panel leading to a hidden compartment. The compartment contained 179 marijuana-filled bundles. The drugs and rail car were seized. The investigation is continuing.

"CBP performs a gamma ray scan on every single rail car that arrives from Mexico as it is moving across the border and entering the United States," said Norman Bebon, CBP acting Port Director of the El Paso Port of Entry. "The attention to detail and the ability to pinpoint a drug load in a moving target illustrates the commitment CBP officers have to their job. This was no easy task and the CBP officers should be commended."

Every month, CBP officers at the El Paso port of entry process approximately 210 northbound trains at the El Paso rail crossing. Those trains haul approximately 12,900 empty and loaded rail cars across the border monthly. The crossings generally occur in the early morning hours so the moving trains will not interfere with street traffic in El Paso and Juarez.

CBP 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, vehicles, 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.