High School Students Being Recruited To Smuggle Drugs Into US

By Kelly Burch 05/10/18

"We're going after recruiters who exploit these kids, but the kids also need to know that they are gambling with their lives when they do this." 

group of high school students walking down hallway

Two California high schoolers are in legal trouble this week after being caught smuggling drugs—and people—in two separate cases that highlight the extreme measures that drug traffickers will go to in order to get their product into the country. 

“We are seeing a very troubling trend and we want to warn parents and high schoolers,” U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said in a statement reported by The San Diego Union Tribune. “Our youth are being recruited by drug cartels to smuggle dangerous drugs across the border. We are going after the recruiters who exploit these kids, but the kids also need to know that they are gambling with their lives when they do this. Don’t throw away your future.”

In one incident, a San Diego man was arrested after a sheriff’s deputy saw what he believed to be a drug deal take place in the parking lot of San Ysidro High School in San Diego when a student approached the car of an adult driver.

The student who was spotted going to the car reportedly said that he was delivering meth for another student, who had crossed the Mexican border with the drugs earlier in the day. The adult driver was allegedly found to be in possession of 5 kilograms of meth. 

Another case involved Phillip Junior Webb, an 18-year-old senior at MAAC Community Charter School in Chula Vista, California, who was arrested this week after being accused of smuggling a Mexican national and a Chinese national into the United States in the trunk of his car. 

In the criminal complaint again Webb, authorities allege that he recruited classmates at Castle Park High School in Chula Vista, where he attended school last year, to strap fentanyl or meth to their bodies and walk across the border from Mexico. 

Last year, border officials caught five students attempting to do just that, and some of them reportedly said that Webb, and others, had paid them $500 to smuggle the drugs.

The LA Times reported that sometimes payments for these runs were exchanged in the bathroom of the high school. One teen said he had done it about 20 times, suggesting that this was an ongoing operation. 

Some students in Southern California live in Mexico and cross the boarder daily to attend school. U.S. Attorney Sherri Walker Hobson said these teens are the ones most likely to be targeted by smugglers.

"The message has to go out to students,” she said. “We are going to do put up billboards at these high schools and educate these young people to let them know what they are being asked to do is deadly.”

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