ORIGINAL POST, AUG. 29, 7:05 A.M.: U.S. Border Patrol agents from the San Clemente checkpoint are giving Orange County law enforcement at their various sobriety checkpoints a run for the money lately, only the feds are catching alleged drug smugglers instead of alleged booze hounds.
Now comes this: Two separate busts at and near the same San Clemente checkpoint on Tuesday. First, agents said they smelled marijuana in a 2006 Chevrolet Impala passing through and had the driver, a 22-year-old U.S. citizen, pull over to a secondary inspection area, according to a Border Patrol statement.
The driver said he and his female passenger, also an adult citizen, had just come from Oceanside, say agents, who go on to allege a canine officer sniffed out a duffel bag in the trunk with several pounds of marijuana inside. The unidentified man said the pot was his and he and the herb were turned over to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office, according to the Border Patrol.
A larger bust happened around 5:30 p.m. not at the checkpoint but a nearby rest stop along the 5 freeway, when patrolling agents approached two men in a parked 1996 Ford Mustang. Again, it was a canine officer that alerted human handlers, who were allegedly told by the 21-year-old driver that he previously had an empty container of marijuana in the console.
Let’s just stop right here for a moment and ask if this excuse has ever worked.
“Oh, you previously hit pot in the car?” asks the agent. “Great, no need to search any further. Carry on.”
Agents did search the car and, lo and behold, there was an empty container, just like the dude said. But nine bundles of methamphetamine also turned up hidden inside the spare tire and eight more bundles were stashed inside a speaker box in the trunk, according to the Border Patrol.
Weighing in at 18.63 pounds, the 17 bundles have an estimated street value of $186,300, say the agents, who turned the meth and two fellows–both Mexican nationals–over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The Border Patrol seized the Mustang.
UPDATE, AUG. 29, 8:14 A.M.: Agents made another double play Wednesday, stopping a 2005 Nissan Sentra and 2004 Dodge Ram truck with more than $1 million in heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine hidden inside them, according to the Border Patrol.
Around 2:15 p.m., the Sentra accelerated without stopping at the San Clemente checkpoint, prompting agents to halt the car and conduct an inspection, according to the Border Patrol, which adds the driver presented “questionable identification” that led to his being directed to a secondary inspection area.
If you read the original post, you know where this is going: the canine officer alerted handlers to areas of the car, and a search produced 15 bundles inside the passenger side panel, 13 bundles inside the driver’s side rear-door panel and five bundles in the rear wheel wells, agents said.
The 33 bundles–seven of which were filled with heroin and 26 with meth–weighed 48.32 pounds and had an estimated street value of $519,880, according to the Border Patrol.
Next, during a search of the “suspicious” Ram truck near the checkpoint around 6:30 p.m., the canine again alerted agents, who found 15 bundles of cocaine hidden in the dashboard, according to the Border Patrol, which reports the narcotics weighed 38.36 pounds and had an estimated street value of $498,680.
The 44-year-old driver of the Sentra and 33-year-old driver of the Ram, both unidentified Mexican national men, were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration to face narcotic smuggling charges, while the Border Patrol seized the vehicles.