By Pauline Repard
Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 2:10 p.m.
EAST COUNTY — The driver of a Ford Mustang was arrested with more than $4 million worth of cocaine in the trunk at the Pine Valley Border Patrol checkpoint Wednesday, authorities said.
The driver came to the checkpoint on Interstate 8 about 3:20 p.m. and appeared nervous when agents contacted him, said Agent Scott Simon.
A drug-sniffing dog reacted to the trunk of the 1998 Mustang. Simon said agents found 62 bundles of cocaine weighing a total of 436 pounds, with an estimated street value of $4.3 million.
The driver, a 19-year-old United States citizen, was arrested and turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011
By Pauline Repard
Campo, Calif. — U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested seven men in two separate incidents in Campo and seized nearly 600 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $349,000.
The most recent incident occurred yesterday morning when Border Patrol agents detected several individuals with backpacks walking north from the U.S./ Mexico border through the brush. Agents responded, intercepting six individuals and discovered six backpacks hidden in the surrounding areas. The backpacks contained 27 bundles of marijuana weighing more than 337 pounds with an estimated street value of $202,000. The men, later identified as Mexican nationals illegally in the country, were taken into Border Patrol custody.
An earlier incident occurred Friday morning when Border Patrol agents working near the international border in Campo observed four individuals carrying large backpacks. Agents observed the subjects attempting to conceal the backpacks in the surrounding brush. Agents arrived in the area and conducted a search and encountered one male Mexican national and found four large backpacks. The three additional suspects absconded from the area and returned to Mexico. The backpacks contained 20 bundles of marijuana weighing more than 245 pounds with an estimated street value of $147,000.
The seven suspected smugglers and the marijuana were taken into custody and were turned over to a multi-agency drug task force.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 3:54 p.m.
LOS ANGELES — A beachcomber in a lonely Santa Catalina Island cove wasn't looking for shells. Authorities said he was guarding 1,500 pounds of marijuana.
Deputies seized 31 bales of pot on Tuesday and arrested a Mexican citizen on suspicion of possessing and transporting marijuana, Capt. Jeff Donahue said Wednesday.
"This guy's looking at least 10 years" in prison if he is convicted, Donahue said. The man was not immediately identified.
A sheriff's deputy and a park ranger who were "just hanging out" spotted the man at remote Little Harbor, Donahue said.
The man went back to a cove where there were blue tarpaulins and "bales of something," but when the authorities approached he tried to hide, the captain said.
A helicopter was called in to help deputies spot the fugitive. He was finally found hiding in crevasses in a rocky area.
The plastic-wrapped bales turned out to be Mexican marijuana with an estimated street value of $1.5 million.
A boat that apparently was used to land the pot was found on the north side of the island. It likely was forced there by bad weather.
"Obviously, we had a lot of rain and storms in the past few days," he said. "He was just waiting to be picked up."
Catalina draws ferry-loads of tourists, boaters, scuba divers and hikers from around the world. The quaint city of Avalon features scenic harbors, surging kelp gardens and back-country wilderness.
But when the weather's bad, it also attracts smugglers forced to seek shelter, Donahue said.
In April 2010, authorities seized 4,000 pounds of marijuana and arrested three men who claimed they were abandoned after paying a smuggler to bring them to the U.S.
They were later sentenced to about 10 years in prison.
As the United States has strengthened security at the border, Mexican smugglers have turned to the sea, outfitting so-called panga boats to run up the coast from Baja California with cargoes of dope or illegal immigrants.
"It used to be San Diego. Now, they're working their way up higher," Donahue said.
Information from: Press-Telegram, http://www.presstelegram.com