The Desert IndependentTM

Serving Blythe and the Desert Regions of the Southwest Since 2001


Drug and human smuggling attempts

June 5, 2018

YUMA, Arizona Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents near Wellton and Quartzsite Arizona, arrested 15 subjects, including two United States citizens, in separate attempted human smuggling incidents, and averted a significant drug smuggling event Saturday.

The first event occurred Saturday, June 2 at approximately 1:40 a.m. at the Interstate-8 Immigration Checkpoint near Wellton. A white Ford E-350 van approached the primary inspection lanes where Wellton Border Patrol agents questioned the driver, a male 52-year-old United States citizen, and eight passengers regarding their citizenship status. The eight Mexican national passengers each acknowledged not having any paperwork for legally being in the United States. The driver and all eight passengers were arrested and the vehicle was seized.

In the second event near Quartzsite at approximately 5:45 a.m., agents directed a black 2000 GMC Yukon to the secondary inspection area of the Immigration Checkpoint. A short time later, Blythe Border Patrol agents initiated a traffic stop on the same GMC Yukon while traveling on Highway 95. Multiple individuals were seen to occupy the previously empty vehicle. Five illegal immigrants and the 22-year-old male United States citizen driver were taken into custody. The five subjects, ranging in age between 17 and 41, were from Guatemala and Mexico. The five subjects circumvented the immigration checkpoint on foot before being picked up by the driver after he successfully passed through the checkpoint alone.

In the third event at approximately 3:30 p.m. near Wellton, a Border Patrol canine positively alerted to a blue 2012 Ford Fusion in the primary inspection lane of the Interstate-8 Immigration Checkpoint. After a vehicle search, agents found hidden compartments in the rocker panels on both sides of the vehicle. The hidden compartments held 35 cellophane wrapped packages with 37.8 pounds, worth $113,400, of methamphetamine. The driver was a 20-year-old male lawfully admitted for permanent residence living in Somerton, Arizona.

An individual is presumed innocent unless and until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

All persons, drugs and vehicles are processed per Yuma Sector guidelines. Federal law allows agents to charge individuals by complaint, a method that allows the filing of charges for criminal activity without inferring guilt.

Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents effectively combat smuggling organizations attempting to illegally transport people and contraband through southwestern Arizona and California. Citizens 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.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP strives to keep terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

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