A record bust: 10 tons of pot seized at border

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A record bust: 10 tons of pot seized at border

By Craig Smith. CREATED Nov 19, 2013

NOGALES, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - It's the biggest marijuana bust ever seen in Arizona: 20,000 pounds of marijuana found packed in a semi-trailer November 13th.

Tuesday Customs and Border Protection showed off the haul Tuesday.  It took up a big swath of an inspection warehouse at the Mariposa Port of Entry.

The trucker was trying to pass off the load as Mexican squash.  There was enough squash to try to hide the dope but a Customs inspector found the huge load of marijuana when he was suspicious enough to send the truck through an X ray, have a dog sniff it down and finally have an eyes-on look at the load.

Guadelupe Ramirez runs the Mariposa Port.  He says inspectors can't run every truck through the X-ray, so there's a science, and an art to deciding which trucks get a closer look.

He says, "They have to pay attention to the information the driver's presenting to them and also how the driver's conducting himself, so it's kind of like taking behavioral symptoms and information and experience lumping it all together to identify which shipments you feel are higher risk."

And it all has to happen with a mind to moving legitimate cargo with minimal delay.

CBP says trying to slip through a load that large is a real sign of desperation.  There was another load almost this big in January. It was seven tons so now it's the second largest drug load seized in Arizona. 

Customs officials say fruit and vegetable shipments from Mexico peak in the winter so drug smugglers may be more likely to try to move drug loads then hoping their illegal load will slip through with a surge of legitimate cargo.

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

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Craig enjoys using innovative writing and visuals to make difficult stories easier to understand. As a newsroom manager at KGUN 9, Craig was part of the team that won three best newscast awards from Arizona Associated Press