Shipments of Strawberries and Cucumbers Concealed Narcotics Valued at More than $13 million

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents from the Office of Field Operations (OFO) intercepted three narcotics shipments valued at nearly $13 million concealed in commercial shipments of strawberries and vegetables coming from Mexico during the last weeks of April.

On April 28, 2021, the first seizure occurred after CBP officers assigned to the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge cargo facility encountered an empty truck/trailer arriving from Mexico.

A secondary examination that included non-intrusive imaging (NII) system inspection allowed officers to detect suspicious narcotics packages concealed inside the trailer. As a result, officers removed a total of 1,641 packages containing suspected marijuana weighing 624 pounds (282 kg) valued at $125,000.

Hours later, officers referred a truck/trailer carrying a commercial shipment of fresh strawberries for further inspection, where officers discovered 177 packages of suspected methamphetamine hidden inside the boxes of strawberries.

The packages of narcotics weighed 411 pounds (186.5 kg) and valued at $8,223,000.

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“Our officers definitely rose to the challenge by detecting these loads of narcotics in two separate commercial shipments at our cargo facility,” said Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port Director Carlos Rodriguez. “As daunting as this task may seem, our officers are able to effectively balance processing legal trade while maintaining strict enforcement action to advance our border security mission.”

Meanwhile, on April 17, Customs and Border Control agents intercepted a load of suspected methamphetamine valued at $4,343,000 concealed in a commercial shipment of fresh produce.

During their routine inspections, CBP agents assigned to the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge cargo facility referred a truck/trailer carrying a commercial shipment of fresh cucumbers for further examination, which included using non-intrusive imaging (NII) system.

Subsequent inspections resulted in agents discovering 114 packages of suspected methamphetamine weighing 217 pounds (98.5 kg) concealed inside the trailer.

The Office of Customs Operations seized all of the narcotics, the transport vehicles, and the cases are under investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).