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Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents seized almost four tons of marijuana — valued at $2.3 million — not-so-subtly hidden in a shipment of jalapeños.
The drug bust occurred last Thursday at the Otay Mesa port of entry near San Diego, according to a CBP press release. A 37-year-old Mexican citizen allegedly hid bricks of weed in a tractor trailer full of jalapeño peppers, which a canine team managed to sniff out. When CBP officials looked in the truck, they discovered 314 “wrapped packages of marijuana,” according to the release.
Mark Morgan, the agency’s acting commissioner, congratulated the officers who found the drugs on Twitter.
Just two days earlier, border agents had found 10,642 pounds of weed hidden in a shipment of plastic auto parts. That same week, Coast Guard officers found 1,300 pounds of weed wrapped in trash bags floating off the coast of California. And in July, a Coast Guard officer jumped on top of a moving submarine that was being used to smuggle 17,000 pounds of cocaine.
President Trump has repeatedly suggested that most drug smugglers go to great lengths to avoid checkpoints and has touted his border wall as the best way to stop drug trafficking. Jim Carroll, the director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, has also claimed a border wall will curb drug trafficking by “forc[ing] people to the ports of entry, where there’s more law enforcement located.”
“[U]nlike what the Democrats say, they don’t, you don’t bring trucks of drugs through the checkpoints,” Trump told the New York Times in February. “You bring trucks of drugs by making a right 20 miles, and a left into the country.”
But the vast majority of drug busts actually occur at ports of entry, like the one in Otay Mesa where the recent marijuana shipment was detected. In fact, it’s common for drug smugglers to hide drugs in agricultural shipments to try to get them across the border. And in 2018, the average port inspector seized eight times more cocaine and 36 times more heroin than the average Border Patrol agent, according to an analysis by the Cato Institute.
Cover image: This Thursday, Aug 15, 2019, photo released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows marijuana mixed in with a shipment of jalapeno peppers seized by CBP officers in San Diego's Otay Mesa, Calif. Officials say they seized $2.3 million worth of marijuana at the Southern California port. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection via AP)