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Three Trains, Three Seizures, $1 Million in Marijuana At Nogales Port of Entry

April 3, 2008

Nogales, AZ – In less than a week, Customs and Border Protection officers inspecting trains coming from Mexico through the Nogales port of entry have netted more than a million dollars worth of marijuana. Officers intercepted almost 655 pounds of marijuana hidden inside or on rail cars in three separate incidents in four days.

On Saturday, March 29, 2008, at approximately 7:30 p.m. CBP officers were inspecting train cars coming into the country from Mexico, searching for people, narcotics, and other contraband, when they noticed discrepancies on a rail car filled with grain. The officers requested the assistance of a CBP narcotic detection dog that promptly alerted to the odor of narcotics coming from the railcar. Officers continued to inspect the car and discovered a compartment built into the structure. Upon gaining access to the compartment, officers discovered a total of 88 packages of marijuana with a total weight close to 517 pounds.

The second seizure happened on Tuesday, April 1, at around 3:15 p.m., when officers inspecting a train noticed suspicious activity near one of the rail cars. When the officers examined the car, although no subjects were found, two bales of marijuana weighing approximately 48 pounds were seized.

The third seizure also occurred on April 1 at approximately 5 p.m. CBP officers screening another incoming train with the rail Vehicle And Container Inspection System noticed anomalies on a cement rail car as the train was making entry into the United States. Once again, a CBP narcotic detection dog alerted to the railcar, prompting a thorough search of the car. Officers discovered five bails of marijuana, totaling more than 90 pounds, hidden under the cement. The estimated street value for the illicit drugs is more than $1 million.

"Because of the pressure we’re putting on the smuggling organizations, we’ve seen an increase in the number of attempts at using the train as a method for smuggling narcotics," said Port Director James Tong, "but our officers continue to demonstrate their ability to pick up on small discrepancies and use the variety of tools available to stop these attempts."

Since Oct. 1, 2007, CBP officers at the Nogales port of entry have stopped 15 attempts to smuggle narcotics using the train. These seizures have netted nearly 3,000 pounds of marijuana, with an estimated value of $4.4 million. During the previous year, officers intercepted only three smuggling attempts of drugs on trains, seizing almost 367 pounds.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.



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