Border Patrol Seize Nearly $1 Million In Cocaine Hidden In Tomatoes

By Kelly Burch 03/08/19

The cocaine seizure was one of two major drug busts that happened at a Laredo port of entry last week. 

person picking tomatoes

Border patrol agents in Laredo, Texas had a productive weekend—seizing $3 million in drugs including more than $850,000 in cocaine that was being smuggled in a shipment of tomatoes. 

“Securing the cargo environment is a critical mission for [Customs and Border Protection] and this weekend’s significant cocaine seizure underscores the need for our officers to stay ever-vigilant and aware of the narcotics threat while facilitating lawful commerce,” Albert Flores, the port director at Laredo Port of Entry told KTXS12 News.

The Dallas Morning News reported that on Friday (March 1) an officer with CBP stopped a tractor trailer. When officials searched the truck, they found 111 packages of cocaine hidden in 44 packages. If they had been sold on the street, the drug could have raked in $857,500.

On Saturday (March 2), officials at another bridge border crossing in Laredo stopped a man with an American passport who was driving through the crossing. In his vehicle they found 4 pounds of heroin and 120 pounds of methamphetamine, which were detected using drug-sniffing dogs. Those drugs had a street value of more than $2 million, officials said. 

"I congratulate our frontline officers for their firm commitment to carry out the CBP mission and protect the public from illegal narcotics," Flores said.

President Trump has talked about how a border wall will stop the flow of narcotics into the United States. “Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl.”

However, experts point out that most drugs are smuggled into the country via legal entry points, like the Port in Laredo. Because of this, experts have argued that increasing resources for Customs and Border Protection would do more to stop illegal drugs than a wall would. 

“A wall alone cannot stop the flow of drugs into the United States,” Christopher Wilson, deputy director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars told Vox in 2017

“If we’re talking about a broader increase in border security, there could be some—probably minor—implications for the overall numbers of drugs being trafficked. But history shows us that border enforcement has been much more effective at changing the when and where of drugs being brought into the United States rather than the overall amount of drugs being brought into the United States.”

In addition, demand for the drugs mean that smugglers will always look for new and innovative ways to get them into the country, experts say. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.