The U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized nearly four tons of marijuana last week in a package from Mexico to the United States. Packed among the contraband? A shipment of jalapeños.
The bust came Thursday, when the CBP said a 37-year-old Mexican man entered the Otay Mesa port of entry near the border between San Diego and Tijuana.
The man entered the port “driving a tractor pulling a trailer with cargo manifested as jalapeño peppers,” according to a press release from the CBP. The CBP officer at the cargo facility then referred the truck for a secondary inspection.
After the driver pulled up to the dock, a canine unit was alerted to the shipment of peppers, prompting other CBP officers to further inspect the cargo. From there, the officers “discovered a leafy-green like substance that field-tested positive for the properties of marijuana,” according to the press release.
Amid the pallets of jalapeños, officers discovered more than 300 large wrapped packages of marijuana that weighed 7,560 pounds and was valued at $2.3 million.
“I am proud of the officers for seizing this significant marijuana load,” Otay Mesa Port Director Rosa Hernandez said in the press release. “Not only did they prevent the drugs from reaching our community, they also prevented millions of dollars of potential profit from making it into the hands of a transnational criminal organization.”
The Customs and Border Protection said it seized the truck and marijuana. There was no mention in the press release of the driver’s status.
Marijuana seizures have long been common at the U.S.-Mexico border — and at the Otay Mesa cargo facility, where just two days prior to the jalapeño ruse, the CBP said officers seized 10,642 pounds of pot that arrived in a shipment of plastic auto parts.
The United States has more than 300 ports of entry, where CBP officers are tasked with inspecting incoming cargo, as well as screening foreign visitors and returning American citizens.
For the 2019 fiscal year to date, which includes the period between October 1, 2018 and July 31, 2019, the CBP says its office of field operations has seized 226,928 pounds of marijuana, 81,889 pounds of cocaine, 53,849 pounds of methamphetamines, 3,924 pounds of heroin and 2,096 pounds of fentanyl in nationwide drug seizures.
The office of field operations seized 300,289 pounds of marijuana in the fiscal year 2018, down from 366,627 pounds in 2017 and 516,122 pounds in 2016.