Border agents seize cash, drugs

Border agents seize cash, drugs
Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 9:53pm

El Paso Sector U.S. Border Patrol Agents made multiple busts in two days in Southern New Mexico. The seizures yielded almost 900 pounds of marijuana and $60,000 in suspected drug cash. 

The first bust happened Monday at the immigration checkpoint on U.S. Highway 70, west of Alamogordo. In that case, agents arrested 25-year-old Marcelo Lamar Hall and 32-year-old Benjamin Joshua Johnson, both U.S. Citizens. Agents say the pair was acting suspicious. A canine search of their 2008 Chrysler revealed three vacuum-sealed bags containing $60,060 in suspected U.S. drug currency. It was hidden underneath the rear passenger seat.  Agents also found a user’s amount of marijuana inside a suitcase that was in the possession of one subject.  Both subjects denied any knowledge or ownership of the currency, but the currency and vehicle were seized by agents.

The largest marijuana seizure during this period was in the Lordsburg area on Tuesday when agents found 19 bundles of marijuana totaling 429 pounds near the base of the Big Hatchet Mountain Range. No suspects were found in the area.

Earlier the same day, a separate seizure of 354 pounds of marijuana was made in the Salt Canyon area, outside of Lordsburg. A U.S. Border Patrol canine and an Office of Air and Marine (OAM) helicopter crew helped locate eight burlap backpacks full of contraband that had been left in the area. No arrests were made.

In a separate incident, at the same checkpoint on U.S. Highway 70, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested a U.S. citizen riding on a commercial bus-line. Agents say 25-year-old Bernie Robert Ortiz was carrying eight pounds of marijuana strapped to his left thigh, with an estimated street value of $6,480.  The Otero County Narcotics Enforcement Unit arrested him and seized the marijuana. 

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