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Border Patrol has busy week of smugglers, drugs
U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Yuma Sector arrested 17 drug smugglers, seized 1,729 pounds of marijuana and 5.7 pounds of methamphetamine during a five-day period.
According to Agent Kyle Estes of the Yuma Sector Communications Division, the most recent incident happened Monday afternoon when agents working southwest of Gila Bend located a five-man group of suspected drug smugglers carrying backpacks of marijuana through the desert.
Estes said the group, upon seeing they had been discovered, quickly dropped the backpacks and ran. Agents apprehended three of the men and seized the 130 pounds of marijuana the group was transporting. Agents then continued to search for the two other smugglers.
On Sunday, agents using night vision equipment apprehended two separate groups of drug smugglers south of Gila Bend. The first, at about 10 p.m., was a group of eight Mexican nationals illegally present in the U.S. The men were carrying a combined 390 pounds of marijuana.
Two hours later, they apprehended five smugglers out of a six-man group. This group, also Mexican nationals, was carrying 257 pounds of marijuana.
On March 14, agents observed a Chevy Tahoe driving northbound on the western portion of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. Estes said as the agents got closer to the vehicle, the Tahoe turned and fled south.
Agents chased the vehicle as it sped back to the U.S.-Mexico border where a vehicle barrier-type fence is in place. Unable to take the Tahoe past the fence, two men jumped out and ran back into Mexico. Agents searched the vehicle and found it loaded with 802 pounds of marijuana.
The next day, while working at the Spot Road checkpoint on Interstate 8, a Border Patrol canine unit alerted to a Ford F-350. After sending the truck to secondary inspection, Estes said a search of the vehicle lead to the discovery of 150 pounds of marijuana and 5.7 pounds of methamphetamine hidden in the gas tank. The driver, a Mexican national with permanent legal resident status, was taken into custody.
The total estimated worth of the 1,729 pounds of marijuana was $864,500.
Yuma County residents can help the Border Patrol and U.S. Customs and Border Protection by calling 1-866-999-8727 toll-free to report suspicious activity. Callers can remain anonymous.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.