Authorities say thousands of pounds of illegal narcotics were discovered hidden in vats of jalapeno paste and seized at the US-Mexico border last week, owing in part to K-9 canines that sniffed out the strange cargo. The medications are expected to be worth $10.4 million in total.
Border security officials discovered the illegal shipment inside a commercial tractor-trailer being investigated at a San Diego inspection facility, according to a news release issued by US Customs and Border Protection on Thursday.
Officers took 349 sachets of methamphetamine and cocaine from the vats of paste themselves after K-9 canines screened and flagged the trailer, which was alleged to be carrying a cargo of jalapeno paste.
CBP recognized the driver as a 28-year-old guy with a valid border crossing card — a visitor’s visa issued by the United States to Mexican citizens and residents. Border security referred the driver to the Otay Mesa Cargo Facility for inspection after he passed through the entrance point into California on Wednesday morning, according to the agency.
CBP added that testing on the suspicious parcels found inside his truck revealed that the vats of jalapeno paste contained about 3,161 pounds of methamphetamine and 522 pounds of cocaine. Officers seized the substances and turned the driver over to Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation.
“Our K-9 teams are an invaluable component of our counter-narcotics operations, providing a reliable and unequaled mobile detection capability,” stated Rosa Hernandez, Port Director of Otay Mesa.
According to the agency, officers at the CBP field office in San Diego recovered more than 14,000 pounds of narcotics at border crossing points in the area in November alone.
In addition to narcotics shipments recovered on land, the US Coast Guard announced earlier this month that a crew operating in waters off the coast of Southern California offloaded approximately 18,219 pounds of cocaine, with a street value of nearly $240 million.
In November, cocaine was confiscated from multiple vessels suspected of drug smuggling activities along the coasts of Mexico, Central America, and South America.
It is not uncommon for drug traffickers to conceal drugs in odd locations. The United States Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California announced last week that four people had been charged with running a transnational drug trafficking operation that exported large amounts of cocaine and methamphetamine to Australia, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand. According to officials, the drugs were hidden in commercial products such as instant noodle packages, car parts, emergency kits, and subwoofers.