Marijuana hidden in ladders discovered at border

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The following is a press release from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

SAN LUIS, Ariz -U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers stopped an unusual drug-smuggling attempt at the San Luis Port of Entry when they discovered 74 packages of marijuana hidden inside two ladders being brought into the United States.

"The smugglers attempt unusual methods to get their narcotics into the United States, but our officers will still manage to catch them," said Port Director William K. Brooks.

The seizure happened early Tuesday morning when a CBP officer questioning the 40-year-old driver of a 1998 Dodge Ram van coming into the country from Mexico became suspicious of his behavior and sent him in for further inspection. While in the secondary inspection area, the vehicle was searched by CBP officers, with the assistance of a CBP narcotics detector dog that alerted to the odor of narcotics coming from the roof of the van.

Officers searching the vehicle and its contents noticed discrepancies with two ladders on top of the van and when they took the ladders down and inspected them, discovered 74 packages of marijuana hidden inside the sides of the ladders. The officers seized more than 211 pounds of marijuana, with an estimated street value of $343,000.

In another incident that happened early Sunday afternoon, August 17, CBP officers arrested a 33-year-old man from Mexico after discovering 76 pounds of marijuana hidden inside the gas tank of the 1989 GMC truck he was driving.

The drivers in both incidents were arrested and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for further investigation.

Both incidents resulted in the combined seizure of 287 pounds of marijuana, with an estimated street value of almost $500,000.

A criminal complaint is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt

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, 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.

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.