EL PASO, TX – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and U.S. Border Patrol agents working at the El Paso port of entry seized 14.65 pounds of cocaine Monday. The drugs were hidden in the radiator of a vehicle entering the U.S. from Mexico. The estimated street value of the seized cocaine is $468,800.
“Smugglers will use any part of the vehicle they can to hide drugs,” said Hector Mancha, CBP El Paso Port Director. “Deeply concealed drug loads are a challenge but they are a challenge CBP is ready to face.”
The seizure was made just after 9 a.m. at the Bridge of the Americas international crossing. CBP officers, Border Patrol agents and CBP canine teams were performing an enforcement sweep of vehicles waiting to arrive at a primary inspection booth when CBP drug sniffing dog “Shake” alerted to the front of a 1997 Chevrolet Silverado in line. CBP personnel escorted the vehicle to the secondary exam area where they noted a number of discrepancies in the appearance of the truck. CBP officers scanned the vehicle with the Z-Portal x-ray system and identified an anomaly in the appearance of the radiator. The radiator was further examined and CBP personnel located a hidden compartment built into the part. The compartment contained five cocaine-filed bundles.
CBP officers arrested the driver of the vehicle. He is identified as 57-year-old Alberto Flores Dominguez of El Paso, Texas. He was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations agents to face charges associated with the failed smuggling effort.
In addition to the cocaine load area CBP officers seized 160 pounds of marijuana in three additional enforcement actions Monday. 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.