3 women suspected of drug smuggling arrested by Border Patrol at HWY 86 checkpoint

NILAND, Calif. - El Centro Sector Border Patrol agents from the Indio Station arrested three women suspected of drug smuggling in two separate incidents over the Memorial Day Weekend at the Highway 86 checkpoint. 

According to the Border Patrol's news release, the first incident occurred on Saturday morning when a 2008 Mazda Tribute driven by a 45-year-old woman approached the checkpoint. The driver was accompanied by her 23-year-old daughter and two-year-old granddaughter.  Agents referred the vehicle to secondary for further examination.

At the secondary inspection, a  canine team alerted to the vehicle.  After an intensive search, agents discovered 18 packages of narcotics hidden in the roof of the Mazda.

The content of the 13 packages tested positive for cocaine for a combined weight of 33.12 pounds. Three packages tested positive for methamphetamine and weighed 4.41 pounds, while the last two packages tested positive for heroin and weighed 2.6 pounds. The combined estimated street value of the seizure is $547,312, agents said. 

The woman and her family members, the vehicle and the narcotics were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration for further investigation. Authorities didn't specify where the woman and her family reside. 

The second incident occurred on Memorial Day at about 4:40 a.m., when a 22-year-old woman approached the checkpoint on Highway 86 in a 2010 Chrysler 300. 

Agents referred the woman to secondary inspection for a closer examination and found 67 packages inside the gas tank of the vehicle. The packages tested positive for methamphetamine.

The methamphetamine had a total weight of 51.73 pounds with an estimated street value of $165,536.

The woman, a United States citizen, the vehicle, and the narcotics were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration for further investigation.

“Drug smuggling organizations are determined, resourceful, and will stop at nothing to affirm their goals.  Our agents and K-9 units are steadfast in protecting our community from these dangerous drugs,” said Assistant Chief Patrol Agent David S. Kim.

In fiscal year 2017, El Centro Sector has seized more than 739.49 pounds of methamphetamine, 134.87 pounds of heroin, and 424.37 pounds of cocaine.

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