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Tag: Drugs

CBP Seizes $4.3M Worth of Meth from Shipment of Cucumber Pickles

CBP found 217 pounds of meth in a shipment of pickles. Photo: CBP

By Steve Neavling

CBP officers found $4.3 million worth of methamphetamine in a shipment of cucumber pickles being hauled into Texas from Mexico. 

Officers assigned to the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge cargo facility seized 114 packages of meth weighing 217 pounds from a tractor-trailer last week. 

The discovered the package after conducting a non-intrusive imagine (NII) system inspection. 

“This substantial quantity of hard narcotics will not make its final destination in the United States,” said Port Director Carlos Rodriguez, Port of Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas. “This interdiction reinforces our officers’ role in advancing CBP’s border security mission by preventing dangerous drugs from entering and negatively impacting our communities.”

The case was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations. 

Woman at JFK Airport Was ‘Full of Pellets’ of Cocaine, CBP Says

Cocaine seized from a traveler at John F. Kennedy Airport. (Photo: CBP)

By Steve Neavling

A woman returning to John F. Kennedy International Airport from the Dominican Republican had concealed 100 pellets of cocaine in her bra, vagina, anus, and purse, U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities said. 

Yerlina Lantigua Hernandez DeNova, an American citizen, was “full of pellets” and now faces federal narcotics smuggling charges, CBP said Tuesday. 

Authorities said they found three pellets of cocaine in her purse during an inspection on April 9. After she was escorted to a private room room for a more thorough search, CBP officers found pellets stuffed in her bra, and she admitted she had “inserted pellets vaginally and anally,” CBP said. 

A total of 3 pounds of cocaine was found. The estimated street value was more than $94,000. 

“This seizure is another example of our CBP officers being ever vigilant in protecting the United States from the distribution of these illicit drugs,” Marty Rabon, acting director of CBP’s New York Field Operations, said in a statement.

CBP Canine Sniffs Out $60K of Fentanyl Stuffed inside Breakfast Burrito

Fentanyl found stuffed inside burritos. (CBP)

By Steve Neavling

A Customs and Border Protection dog sniffed out nearly $60,000 worth of fentanyl stuffed inside breakfast burritos near the U.S.-Mexico Border. 

The canine alerted his handler to a Chevrolet Tahoe at an inspection checkpoint in Yuma on Monday, CBP said in a news release.

The dog sniffed out the drugs in a black backpack inside the vehicle. 

Agents found several small packages containing 5 pounds of fentanyl pills inside the burritos. 

CBP arrested the 37-year-old driver, who was a U.S. citizen.  

CBP Officer Under Investigation for Allegedly Smuggling Drugs into Prison

Photo via Border Patrol

A CBP officer is accused of sneaking drugs into a Washington State prison for her boyfriend, a gang member who was convicted of murder. 

The FBI is investigating Officer Melissa Mesa on allegations she smuggled methamphetamine and suboxone into into the Clallam Bay Corrections Center, The Daily Beat reports, citing an FBI search warrant application.

The drugs were allegedly for Say Keodara, who was sentenced in 2011 to 69 years in the shooting death of a homeless man during a botched robbery attempt at a Seattle bus stop. 

A CBP spokesperson said Mesa is no longer working at the agency. 

“Melissa Mesa’s employment with CBP has been terminated. CBP stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission, and the overwhelming majority of CBP officers/agents perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly every day to keep our country safe,” the spokesperson said. “CBP fully cooperates with all criminal and administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, whether it occurs on or off duty. The investigation is ongoing and we have nothing further to add at this time.”

A confidential source tipped off state investigators about Mesa in May 2020. Correctional officials informed the FBI after learning that Keodara and Mesa were romantically involved. 

“During their relationship, Keodara asked Mesa to meet with individuals in the community in order to obtain illegal drugs and illegally obtained prescription drugs for the purpose of passing the drugs to others for introduction into CBCC,” the warrant application states. “Keodara also asked Mesa to conduct financial transactions on his behalf in furtherance of the drug conspiracy.”

Mesa has not yet been charged. The case is still under investigation. 

Justin King Named Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s Omaha Division

The DEA’s Omaha Division has a new leader. 

Justin C. King has been named special agent in charge of the division, which oversees 11 offices in Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska North Dakota, and the western parts of Illinois and Wisconsin.

King replaces Richard Salter Jr., who retired from the DEA in January.

“I understand and appreciate the concerns our Midwestern communities face as we contend with the threats posed by methamphetamine, counterfeit pills, opioids and other dangerous drugs on a daily basis,” King said in a statement. “I look forward to advancing the good work our investigators are performing across Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota and making a positive impact in our cities and rural communities.”

King’s career with the DEA began 19 years ago, when he joined the Laredo, Texas, District Office. In 2006, he was added to the DEA’s Foreign-Deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST), where he served until 2009. As a member of FAST, King participated in counter narcotics operations during three deployments to Afghanistan and one to Central America.    

In 20019, King transferred to the Oklahoma City District Office and served as a special agent and group supervisor of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force through 2014. King returned to the FAST program in August 2014 as a team leader, guiding his group on the final DEA FAST deployment to Afghanistan, in addition to training deployments in the Ukraine and Paraguay. 

In 2017, King was promoted to section chief and was tasked with the enforcement and training deployments of four FAST teams and the DEA Personal Recovery Unit. He served as executive assistant to the special agent in charge of the DEA’s Office of Training from April 2017 to January 2018.

King served three years as assistant special agent in charge of the Little Rock District Office, where he was responsible for all DEA activities in the state of Arkansas.

A native of Oklahoma, King is a veteran of the U.S. Army Infantry Branch.

Ex-Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Pleads Guilty to Stealing FBI Funds

Allen Scott Pillow

By Steve Neavling

A former Green County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant in Arkansas pleaded guilty Monday to stealing more than $30,000 in FBI money that was part of a fake drug operation. 

Allen Scott Pillow, 56, was convicted on one count of theft of government funds and faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced at a later date. 

Acting on a tip that Pillow was abusing his role with the sheriff’s office, FBI agents conducted a ruse narcotic investigation and asked Pillow for help. In November 2019, the FBI staged a glass drug pipe in a vehicle rented by the FBI, along with $76,000 in cash in a red backpack. 

Pillow searched the car and found the glass pipe and backpack full of cash. He told the FBI that he recovered $45,600, which was $30,400 less than was in the car. 

During a search of Pillow’s home, the FBI found all but $280 of the stolen funds.       

“The vast majority of law enforcement officers are honorable men and women who put their lives on the line every day to preserve our liberty and safety,” United States Attorney Cody Hiland said in a statement. “On the very rare occasion that we encounter corruption within law enforcement, we will take every action necessary to root it out. Our office will hold accountable any officer who violates the public trust so that we may uphold the integrity of a profession that deserves our gratitude and respect.”

Diane Upchurch, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Little Rock Field Office, added, “The appalling criminal actions of former Lt. Scott Pillow revealed his lack of integrity and greed. “Quite simply, he betrayed his brothers and sisters in law enforcement. Officers who are sworn to protect and serve are held to a higher standard, and FBI Little Rock will continue to uphold Arkansans’ trust in law enforcement.”

‘Operation Legend’ Nets Nearly 5,000 Arrests in 9 Cities, Barr Announces

Attorney General William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

Nearly 5,000 people have been arrested across nine cities as part of “Operation Legend,” an anti-crime initiative launched by the Justice Department in July, Attorney General William Barr announced Tuesday. 

Since the operation began on July 8, federal authorities and their local partners have arrested 267 murder suspects and seized roughly 16 kilos of fentanyl, 200 kilos of methamphetamine, 30 kilos of cocaine, and more than $7.3 million in drug proceeds.

Of those arrested, 1,124 have been charged with federal offenses. More than 600 have been charged with firearms offenses, and 440 have been charged with drug-elated crimes. 

The operation involves more than 1,000 agents from the ATF, DEA, and FBI, along with the U.S. Marshals Service, in nine cities: Chicago, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Memphis, Kansas City and Indianapolis. The operation is named in honor of LeGend Taliferro, a 4-year-old boy who was fatally shot while he was sleeping in the morning of June 29 in Kansas City.

To see a breakdown by city, click here.

DEA Makes Largest Meth Bust in Its History – 2,224 Pounds

The DEA’s biggest methamphetamine seizure. Photo via DEA.

By Steve Neavling

The DEA on Wednesday announced the biggest methamphetamine seizure in American history: 2,224 pounds of the drug recovered in California.  

The Oct. 2 bust took place at stash houses in Riverside County that were connected with the Sinaloa cartel, The Los Angeles Times reports. The DEA also seized 13 pounds of heroin and 893 pounds of cocaine.

The announcement came just three days before CBP announced its second largest methamphetamine seizure on Oct. 9 at the Otay Mesa Port Entry in San Diego. CBP officers seized more than 3,100 pounds of methamphetamine, along with 64 pounds heroin, 29 pounds of fentanyl powder and 37 pounds of pills. 

Together, the seizures “are more than enough to provide a dose of meth for every man, woman and child in the United States and Mexico,” Timothy Shea, acting administrator of the DEA, said Wednesday at a news conference.

Authorities have seen a dramatic increase in methamphetamine seizures near the border. Last year, meth overdoses rose 25%, Shea said.