An 81-year-old woman is accused of smuggling 92 pounds of heroin into the United States from Mexico, after she was stopped at a border checkpoint near San Diego, California, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The elderly woman, who wasn’t identified, is a U.S. citizen, officials said.
Officials at the Tecate port of entry on Aug. 8 saw the woman entering the U.S. in a 2011 Chrysler 200 at about 11:30 a.m. A Border Patrol detector dog alerted officials to the driver side of the vehicle, according to an Aug. 9 CBP news release.
When officials investigated, they allegedly discovered a total of 34 wrapped packages of heroin in the car’s rocker panels. The estimated value of the heroin is more than $870,000, officials said.
The woman was arrested and handed over to Homeland Security investigators for further action. Border Patrol agents seized her vehicle.
“The cartels will try and manipulate anyone to smuggle their narcotics through the ports of entry,” said San Diego CBP Director of Field Operations Pete Flores in a statement. “CBP officers are aware of the many tactics used by the cartels and remain ever vigilant to stop anyone attempting to smuggle narcotics.”
Another Woman Arrested
On Aug. 9 at about 4 a.m. local time, Border Patrol agents, using an imaging system at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, which is also in San Diego, saw an anomaly in a 2006 Dodge Caliber driven by a 28-year-old U.S. citizen, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Officials searched the woman’s car and discovered 156 packages of drugs in the back seat, panels, back bumper, and dashboard, the paper reported. Fentanyl, methamphetamine, heroin, and 7,000 oxycodone pills were discovered, worth about $1 million in all, according to the Union-Tribune.
That woman was booked into the Las Colinas women’s jail in Santee, California. The drugs and the car were seized by the Border Patrol.
And on Aug. 8, almost two dozen people were arrested and charged with using a small aircraft to smuggle heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine over the U.S. border for drug cartels, authorities told The Associated Press. In all, 22 suspects were arrested after a 3-year-old investigation. Officials allege that they were working for the notorious Sinaloa cartel, one of the largest in the world.
“More than seizing the drugs and the money, this investigation was able to identify the top level Mexico-based traffickers who directed the transactions and who thought they were using secure communications to commit the crimes,” Tracy Wilkison, the first assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, told AP.
The largest source of heroin in the United States is Mexico’s southwestern Guerrero State, according to an NPR report in January 2018. In 2016, more than 64,000 Americans overdosed on heroin and other opioids. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) said 93 percent of heroin analyzed in 2015 came from Mexico.