12 Smugglers detained near Yuma over Easter weekend

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

YUMA, Ariz. -- Border Patrol agents in the Yuma area seized more than $430,000 in drugs and detained 12 suspected smugglers, including one man convicted of manslaughter over the Easter weekend, according to authorities.

On Friday, agents at a checkpoint on Interstate-8 sent a Ford Escape for further inspection after a drug-sniffing dog alerted them, authorities from Customs and Border Patrol said. The agents learned during the inspection that the driver had multiple arrests for smuggling attempts. Looking inside the car, the agents found about 18 pounds of methamphetamine in packages in the rocker panels. The meth was valued at $54,000.

At the same checkpoint, a dog alerted agents to a Dodge Durango, according to authorities. The agents found six packages of cocaine hidden in the firewall and headliner. The cocaine, 20 pounds in all, was valued at $214,000.

Both drivers were taken into custody, authorities said, and agents seized their cars and drugs.

In an incident near San Luis, agents patrolling the area found a Mexican national who had been convicted of voluntary manslaughter, according to authorities.

Antonio Deleon-Ortiz was convicted in San Diego and sentenced to seven years in prison. He was deported in March from Brownsville, Texas. Authorities said Deleon will face prosecution and removal proceedings.

On Sunday, agents in the Dateland area found nine smugglers carrying marijuana, according to authorities. The agents seized seven backpacks containing a combined 327 pounds of marijuana, worth about $163,500.

One suspected smuggler was identified by authorities as a juvenile and will stay in the custody of Border Patrol. The other eight suspects were turned over to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, along with the marijuana.