EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — A woman accused of smuggling meth had her two young children in her vehicle, border authorities said.
The incident happened Wednesday at the Interstate 8 checkpoint in Pine Valley, California, the same checkpoint where a mother attempted to smuggle a load of meth on Tuesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a news release.
On Wednesday, border agents said a 32-year-old woman approached the checkpoint in a Nissan Murano. A Border Patrol service dog alerted agents to possible narcotics inside the SUV, which was designated for a secondary inspection.
During the search, agents said they found 160 plastic-wrapped packages containing meth hidden in a front door, the rear cargo area and inside the spare tire. The drugs weighed just under 158 pounds and had an estimated street value of $362,342.
Agents arrested the driver, a U.S. citizen. Her two children, ages 12 and 13, were released to family members. The narcotics were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the vehicle was seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.
On Tuesday, a 6-year-old boy was riding with his mother as she attempted to smuggle more than 65 pounds of crystal meth at the same checkpoint. Child Protective Services took custody of the child in that case. Agents arrested his mother, a Mexican national.
“This is the second event this week where drug smugglers used children as a diversion,” San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Douglas Harrison said in a statement. “I am proud of our agents’ dedication. They diligently safeguard children from being used as decoys to benefit transnational criminal organizations.”
A Customs and Border Protection spokesman tells Border Report that when the agency assigns a dollar value to seized narcotics, it is calculated using DEA valuations. According to the DEA, the price of a pound of meth can range from $2,000 to more than $20,000. The street value of drugs can also vary from state to state, with prices usually higher in eastern and southern states.