CALEXICO- Customs and Border Protection officers stopped two suspected drug smugglers with about $44,000 worth of marijuana in one vehicle and $164,000 worth of methamphetamine in another at the Calexico ports of entry Wednesday.
In the first incident around 8 a.m., Mexican citizen Elizabeth Garcia de Mendoza, 43, approached the Calexico downtown Port of Entry driving a 2001 Ford Windstar and said she was going to the Las Palmas swap meet, according to the court complaint.
A detector dog alerted to the vehicle’s dashboard and CBP officers then found 40 packages containing 98 pounds of marijuana hidden in the vehicle. The marijuana has an estimated street value of about $44,000.
Garcia de Mendoza said she had replied to a newspaper ad to take care of an elderly woman and when she met the employer, he proposed that she transport bulk cash from Los Angeles to Mexicali for a fee of $250 to $350 a trip, according to the complaint.
She was supposed to drop off the vehicle and the man’s aunt someplace while the cash was put into the vehicle and then return to Mexicali with the aunt.
“Garcia de Mendoza stated she knew this was illegal, but did not know anything about the drugs that were concealed in the vehicle,” according to the complaint. “She stated she had only anticipated couriering money.”
In the second incident, U.S. citizen Luis Ricardo Esparza, 25, approached the Calexico East Port of Entry driving a 2007 Volkswagen Jetta. A CBP canine detector dog alerted to the vehicle, and Esparza was referred to secondary inspection.
Officers then found 15 packages in the vehicle’s rocker panels and bumper upon further inspection. The packages contained 25.60 pounds of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $164,000.
Esparza denied knowing there was methamphetamine in his vehicle but “did admit that the purpose of the trip was to obtain and transport drug proceeds into Mexico,” according to the court complaint.
“Esparza admitted to previously receiving and transporting $29,000 in drug proceeds into Mexico that originated from Indianapolis,” the complaint reads.
Both drivers were arrested and turned over to the Homeland Security Investigations for further processing. CBP seized the vehicles and narcotics.