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Brian Luke Community Blogger, WGRZ-TV

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CBP Officers Stay Vigilant during the Holiday Period


El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at El Paso area ports of entry made a cocaine and several marijuana seizures during the period of Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010 to Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011. CBP officers confiscated a total of 57.30 pounds of cocaine and 1,261.46 pounds of marijuana.
“While dealing with hundreds of thousands of travelers our Officers and Agriculture Specialists have worked hard throughout the holiday season to intercept illegal substances and wanted criminals.” said Ana Hinojosa, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Director of Field Operations in El Paso. “Each seizure or fugitive arrest makes our community and our country that much safer.”
CBP officers working at the Bridge of the Americas discovered 1000 bundles of marijuana with a weight of 1171.06 pounds concealed in the roof of a 1998 Spirit passenger bus on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010.
CBP officers working at the Bridge of the Americas discovered 1000 bundles of marijuana with a weight of 1171.06 pounds concealed in the roof of a 1998 Spirit passenger bus on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010.
The cocaine seizure was made at the Paso Del Norte international crossing early Thursday morning Dec. 23, 2010 when a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee arrived at the port from Mexico. CBP officers and canine teams were conducting a sweep of vehicles waiting in line at the international crossing when CBP drug sniffing dog “Chip” alerted to the vehicle. CBP officers launched an exam and located a non-factory compartment in the rear floor area of the vehicle. CBP officers drilled into the compartment and removed a white substance that tested positive for cocaine. CBP officers removed a total of 20 cocaine-filled bundles from the compartment.
CBP officers arrested the driver, 25-year-old Juan Leon Torres resident of Aurora, Ill. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents took custody of the subject and booked him into the El Paso County Jail to face federal prosecution where he remains in custody and is being held without bond.
In the largest of the marijuana seizures of the period, CBP officers at the Bridge of the Americas international crossing confiscated 1171.06 pounds of marijuana on Tuesday, December 28, 2010. The seizure was made after a 1998 Spirit passenger tour bus entered the port from Mexico. CBP officers initiated an examination of the bus during which CBP drug sniffing dog “Falco” alerted to the vehicle. CBP officers x-rayed the bus and spotted an anomaly in the ceiling-mounted air conditioning unit. CBP officers drilled the ceiling unit producing a green leafy substance that tested positive for marijuana. CBP officer removed a total of 1,000 marijuana-filled packages from the bus.
CBP officers arrested the driver, 55-year-old Marcelino Juarez Ramirez resident of Mexico City. U.S. ICE special agents took custody of the subject and booked him into the El Paso County Jail to face federal prosecution where he remains in custody and is being held without bond.
In addition to the drug busts, CBP officers working at ports of entry in El Paso, West Texas and New Mexico made a total of 20 seizures of agricultural items. Violators paid $3,850 in penalties in association with the violations. Prohibited food products seized included apples, pork chorizo, pork chicharrones, sugar cane, tangerines, mandarins, guavas, and raw chicken.
CBP officers recorded 121 immigration violations at area ports during the same period including 22 imposters. Imposters generally will use a legitimate entry document assigned to another person and present it as their own. Violators generally lose their documents, can be prosecuted and go to jail and/or are returned to Mexico.
CBP officers seized documents from 67 intended immigrants. In these cases, individuals will use a legally issued border-crossing card (laser visa) to live or work in the U.S., which is not authorized. They also lose their documents and are generally returned to Mexico. CBP officers also recorded 26 cases of people making false claims to U.S. citizenship, people attempting to enter with counterfeit or altered documents, and visa overstay violations. Their thorough and diligent document exam process combined with their interview techniques also helped in catching two alien smugglers.
CBP officers and Border Patrol agents performing southbound exams also apprehended 6 people who were attempting to leave the United States after having previously entered the U.S. without proper inspection. They also identified four vehicle export violations generating $2,000 in penalties.
CBP officers working at area ports made a total of 9 fugitive apprehensions during the period.
While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.
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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