POSTED: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - 12:13pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - 12:15pm
COLUMBUS, N.M. – In a recent string of “large and unusual” drug busts, Customs and Border Protection officers discovered 104 lbs. of marijuana stuffed inside the frames of 100 quinceañera plaques. The smuggling attempt occured at the Columbus Port of Entry neighboring Palomas, Mexico.
CBP arrested 18-year-old Tahlia Arana Perea of Denver, Colorado when they discovered the load in the 2002 Ford Explorer she was driving. She was the only occupant in the vehicle.
“This seizure illustrates that smugglers will go to great lengths in the effort to conceal their contraband,” said Robert Reza, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Columbus Port Director. “No expense was spared in the production of these smuggling tools.”
CBP officers initiated an exam of the vehicle during which they located numerous boxes filled with quincinera decorations. A CBP officer noticed an anomaly in several framed quinceañera inside the vehicle. Officers drilled into the plaques and discovered the concealed marijuana.
Perea was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI agents to face federal charges including importation of a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
In addition to the above seizure, CBP officers working at area ports of entry made six additional drug seizures this weekend during which they confiscated 1,046 pounds of marijuana and 2.5 pounds of cocaine.