Unsuspecting Driver Turned Into "Blind Mule" For Drug Operation

By Keri Blakinger 10/29/18
Deputies found 5 pounds of yet unidentified drugs stuffed into four packages secreted away underneath the man's pickup truck.
The USA Mexican border at Algodones, Mexico.

A Mexican worker crossing the border for his job flagged authorities after he discovered a cache of drugs stuck to the bottom of his truck.

The unidentified driver—who lives in Tijuana but works in California—called the San Diego Sheriff’s Office Thursday morning after spotting something unusual apparently magnetized to his fender, according to ABC affiliate KGTV.

When deputies showed up, they found 5 pounds of drugs stuffed into four packages secreted away underneath the pickup. 

Afterward, the man’s neighbor told authorities he’d seen some men messing with the truck the night before. 

“It’s our feeling that someone targeted this car because he could cross the border every day with the SENTRI pass and they were probably waiting to collect the narcotics later today,” Sgt. Tim Chantler told the TV station.

The SENTRI pass allows for quicker border-crossing in separate commuter lanes, which could make SENTRI users more tempting targets. 

The driver is not suspected in the botched drug-running operation because he alerted authorities to the packages. 

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

Police are awaiting test results before specifying what drug they found in the hidden packages. 

The use of unsuspecting drivers as so-called “blind mules” has become more common in recent years—though until relatively recently, the government denied such things ever happened, according to the San Diego Tribune

Until 2011, federal prosecutors routinely put DEA agents on stand to testify that “blind mules” were a fantasy made up by desperate defense lawyers hoping to spring their clients. 

But that year, feds changed their tune after the FBI recorded a conversation between drug traffickers talking about a blind mule operation involving a fourth grade teacher. 

Though that find forced feds to admit blind mules were real, it’s still not clear how common they are.

“Over the course of my 31-and-a-half years, I say it is rare—I’m talking very rare—to find somebody who doesn’t have some knowledge or isn’t implicated in some way of having narcotics in their vehicle,” Joe Garcia of Homeland Security Investigations told the California paper in 2015. “It’s just uncommon.”

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.