Nearly Four Tons Of Pot Found In Jalapeño Peppers

By Kelly Burch 08/21/19

Two days before the jalapeño bust, officers found 10,000 pounds of marijuana in a shipment of auto parts.

Nearly Four Tons Of Pot Found In Jalapeño Peppers
via U.S. Customs and Border Protection

A Mexican drug smuggler is in hot water after he was caught transporting nearly four tons of marijuana, worth $2.3 million, hidden in a shipment of jalapeño peppers. 

The 37-year-old driver, who has not been named, entered the U.S. through the Otay Mesa cargo facility on the U.S.-Mexico border just east of Tijuana, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) revealed in a press release. The truck was initially inspected, and then sent to a secondary screening, where a drug dog indicated that there was cannabis on board. 

When agents began going through the peppers, they found leafy green substances that tested positive for marijuana. They ultimately pulled 314 packages that contained a total of 7,560 pounds of cannabis from within the containers of peppers.

“I am proud of the officers for seizing this significant marijuana load,” Otay Mesa Port Director Rosa Hernandez said in the press release. “Not only did they prevent the drugs from reaching our community, they also prevented millions of dollars of potential profit from making it into the hands of a transnational criminal organization.”

Although the marijuana being smuggled in a jalapeño pepper shipment caught headlines, it wasn’t the biggest bust at the facility this week.

Bigger Bust

On August 13, two days before the pepper bust, officers detected more than 10,000 pounds of cannabis in a shipment of auto parts. CBP reports that marijuana is the most common illegal substance that comes over the U.S.-Mexican border.

From October 2018 through July 2019, the agency seized 225,000 pounds of marijuana, compared to just 81,000 pounds of cocaine, the second most commonly seized illegal substance. 

Earlier this year, CBP reported that drug cartels were using trucks designed to look like those for the postal service or major brands in order to smuggle drug across the border with less scrutiny.

Unsuspecting Drivers

Traffickers have even used drivers who were totally oblivious to their part in the scheme. Last year, a Mexican man working in the U.S. called the San Diego Sheriff’s Office when he discovered five pounds of unidentified drugs stuck onto his car with a magnet.

“It’s our feeling that someone targeted this car because he could cross the border every day with the [commuter] pass and they were probably waiting to collect the narcotics later today,” Sgt. Tim Chantler of the sheriff’s department said at the time.

The driver was let off the hook because he called the police, but Chantler said that others need to be aware of the risk. 

“I would be checking my vehicle every day before I cross the border, because if you get caught at the border you’re going to have a lot of explaining to do,” he said.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
Kelly Burch Contrib.jpg

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