EL PASO, Texas  (KTSM) – A cross-border traveler was arrested and is facing charges in a failed drug-smuggling effort when he tried to bring nearly 20 pounds of cocaine through the SENTRI lane at the Stanton Street bridge.

“The use of SENTRI is a privilege but participants are not exempt from inspection,” said CBP El Paso Port Director Ray Provencio. “Although the program allows expedited screening for pre-approved, low risk travelers, our officers maintain their vigilance and trust but verify that users are not violating the law and the rules of the SENTRI program.”  

The seizure occurred shortly after 11:30 a.m. Monday, when a minivan arrived at the Stanton Street dedicated commuter lane from Mexico. A CBP officer conducting primary inspections selected and referred the vehicle for a secondary inspection. A non-intrusive X-ray scan and physical inspection of the vehicle resulted in the discovery of multiple cocaine-filled bundles hidden within the dashboard area. The driver was a 71-year-old male Mexican citizen.

The narcotics and vehicle were seized by CBP, and the driver was turned over to the El Paso Sheriff’s Office to face charges in connection with the failed smuggling attempt.

SENTRI is a program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Participants may enter the United States by using dedicated primary lanes into the United States at Southern land border ports. Travelers must be pre-approved for the SENTRI program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment.