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Border Patrol confiscates nearly $1 million in drugs in California

U.S. Border Patrol agents seized nearly $67,000 worth of methamphetamine from this Nissan near the Salton Sea. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Released)

U.S. Border Patrol agents confiscated more than $800,000 worth of drugs from a checkpoint near the Salton Sea in the last two weeks, the agency announced.

The El Centro Sector of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said multiple drug busts at the Highway 86 checkpoint between Salton City and Westmoreland found methamphetamine, heroine, cocaine and fentanyl.

Three incidents were logged over the weekend, according to a release from Border Patrol. In one, agents said a 21-year-old man was found with roughly $88,000 worth of cocaine and fentanyl. Two other seizures involved a 35-year-old man found with roughly $58,000 worth of heroin and a 53-year-old man found with nearly $360,000 worth of cocaine and methamphetamine, the agency said.

“It’s a pretty high amount of drugs in such a short period of time,” Border Patrol spokesman Macario Mora said.

K-9 units were involved in several of the searches, and in many instances, narcotics were hidden inside vehicles, including compartments in engines, dashboards, consoles and oil pans, officials said.

In total, the weekend’s seizures were estimated to have a street value of more than half a million dollars, Customs and Border Protection said.

The busts followed three other smuggling attempts that were logged Friday, including one involving roughly 30 pounds of methamphetamine. The seizures, from three separate vehicles, included a small amount of fentanyl and were valued at more than $120,000.

In the prior week, agents discovered nearly $200,000 worth of methamphetamine in four smuggling incidents.

While most drivers were U.S. citizens who were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Border Crimes Suppression Team, officials said that one was a Mexican national.

The Salton Sea has long been an area of interest for Californians drawn to its isolated locale and high-salinity sea, which has been the subject of an Imperial Valley “water war” for decades. The once-popular tourist destination is now home to a shrinking lakebed known to emit toxic pollution, and few local residents remain.

Mora said the nearby El Centro Border Patrol sector is an active drug trafficking area.


© 2020 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.