11 'Backpacking smugglers' caught with pot bundles

Posted: Updated:

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

WELLTON - In two separate events, Border Patrol agents from Yuma Sector's Wellton Station seized a total of 695 pounds of marijuana, and arrested eleven suspected "backpacking" smugglers.

On March 16, at about 1:30 a.m., Border Patrol agents assigned to the Wellton Station began tracking the footprints of several individuals in the desert east of Tacna, Arizona.

The individuals appeared to be wearing upholstery padding and carpet material on their feet to disguise their tracks. The agents tracked the footprints of the subjects to an area just south of Interstate 8, and after a thorough search of the area, found six " backpack-style" bundles of marijuana with a total combined weight of 248 pounds. One subject was arrested at the scene, and agents ascertained that the remainder of the group had been picked up earlier by a vehicle.

That same morning, at about 3:00 a.m., Border Patrol agents assigned to Wellton Station's forward operating base, Camp Grip, discovered the footprints of about ten individuals entering the United States from Mexico.

The agents tracked the subjects for several miles, and located ten "backpack-style" bundles of marijuana with a total weight of 447 pounds, and three individuals. With the assistance of CBP Air and Marine helicopter pilots, the agents quickly located the remaining seven individuals.

Both the 248 pounds of marijuana, with an estimated value of $198,400 and the individual apprehended near the freeway were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The 447 pounds of marijuana, with an estimated value of $357,600, and the ten suspects apprehended near Camp Grip were turned over to the Pima County Narcotics Task Force.