Cartels Coerce Trusted Traveler to Transport 20 Pounds of Cocaine Through El Paso SENTRI Lane

EL PASO – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Stanton Street dedicated commuter lane border crossing seized 19.7 pounds of cocaine from a traveler enrolled in the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) lane. The seizure was made shortly after 8 a.m. on May 11.

“The use of SENTRI is a privilege but participants are not exempt from inspection,” said CBP El Paso Acting Port Director Samuel Cleaves. “Sometimes we encounter individuals who attempt to circumvent the process. Therefore, we trust but verify that users are not violating the law and the rules of the SENTRI program.”

Cocaine Hidden in a compartment (Contributed/CBP)

Cocaine Hidden in a compartment (Contributed/CBP)

CBP officers and CBP Canine Enforcement officers were conducting vehicle inspections at the Stanton Dedicated Commuter Lane when they encountered a vehicle driven by a 25-year-old female Mexican citizen arriving from Mexico. A CBP drug detecting canine conducted a search of the vehicle and alerted CBP officers to the presence of a trained odor for narcotics.

CBP officers then conducted a non-intrusive x-ray scan and physical inspection of the vehicle resulting in the discovery of multiple bundles hidden within the dashboard area.

The narcotics and vehicle were seized by CBP, and the driver was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations to face charges in connection with the failed smuggling attempt.

SENTRI is a program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Participants may enter the United States by using dedicated primary lanes into the United States at Southern land border ports. Travelers must be pre-approved for the SENTRI program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment.


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