Saturday, June 15, 2024

En Breve: Councilor cocaine bust, record fish find, meth surprise

Reynosa councilor arrested with cocaine in Texas

A municipal councilor from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, was arrested in the United States on Saturday for possession of what authorities said was around 42 kilograms of cocaine.

Denisse Ahumada Martínez, a National Action Party (PAN) councilor in the northern border city, was detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at a checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas.

Denisse Ahumada was caught with about 42 kilograms of cocaine by border patrol in Falfurrias, Texas. (Twitter)

Packages of “suspected cocaine were discovered in various locations” in Ahumada’s vehicle, according to a criminal complaint.

“A field test was conducted on one package which yielded positive for the characteristics of cocaine,” the document said.

Ahumada appeared in a federal court in McAllen, Texas, on Monday and Judge Juan F. Alanis ruled that she must be held in preventive detention as she awaits her next hearing.

According to the complaint, the councilor told authorities she was transporting the drugs to San Antonio. She confessed to having transported narcotics on past occasions as well.

Denisse Ahumada
The National Action Party (PAN) denied that Denisse Ahumada was a member and condemned her actions. (Facebook)

The CBP said in a statement on Monday that Rio Grande Valley Sector agents “successfully interdicted two cocaine smuggling events over the weekend.”

In addition to the Falfurrias seizure, about 11 kilograms of cocaine were confiscated at a checkpoint in Sarita, Texas.

Agents used both X-ray technology and police dogs to detect the cocaine, the CBP said, adding that the weight of the confiscated narcotics totaled 117 pounds (53 kg) and that the street value was over US $3.7 million.

The PAN’s Tamaulipas branch said in a statement that Ahumada isn’t a member of their party, even though she represented it after defecting from the Ecological Green Party of Mexico.

“We condemn the alleged criminal acts of which she is accused,” the statement said.

Seizure of totoaba swim bladders second largest in U.S. 

CBP said Monday that agents in Nogales, Arizona, had seized 242 pounds (110 kg) of swim bladders of the federally-protected totoaba fish. The swim bladders are considered a delicacy in parts of Asia, especially China, and can also be used in Chinese traditional medicine.

The CBP said that 270 totoaba swim bladders with an estimated value of US $2.7 million were seized on April 13 by agents working at the Mariposa trade facility in Nogales. They were “concealed within a commercial shipment of frozen fish fillets,” the law enforcement agency said.

 

“CBP officers contacted U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) who took possession of the bladders. Preliminary DNA testing by USFWS indicates that these bladders are the endangered species totoaba macdonaldi endemic to the Gulf of California in Mexico,” CBP said.

“This seizure is thought to be the second largest seizure of its kind in the U.S. and the largest Totoaba seizure in Arizona, to date,” it said.

“… Because the species is federally protected, in both the U.S. and Mexico, it is illegal to take, possess, transport, or sell Totoaba. In addition, the gill-net fishing methods used to catch the Totoaba have resulted in the co-demise of another endangered species in the Gulf of California, the Vaquita porpoise, Phocoena sinus,” CBP said.

“USFWS and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) are investigating the smuggling attempt of the prohibited item.”

Meth worth more than US $4 million concealed by Brussels sprouts

The CBP said last Thursday that agents in Calexico, California had seized 2,052 pounds (931 kilograms) of methamphetamine in a tractor-trailer transporting Brussels sprouts from Mexico to the United States.

Officers at the Calexico East Cargo Facility – located opposite the Baja California city of Mexicali – discovered a total of 148 packages of meth concealed within the floor and roof of the trailer, the CBP said.

The value of the narcotics, which were confiscated on June 2, was estimated at just over $4.3 million. A 51-year-old male driver who wasn’t identified by name or nationality was detained.

“Smugglers are constantly utilizing innovative methods to conceal narcotics,” said Roque Caza, Calexico Area Port Director.

“By combining officer intuition and utilizing advanced technology, officers were able to make a notable discovery within a shipment of produce. Excellent work by our CBP officers,” he said.

With reports from El Financiero, Borderland Beat and Sin Embargo

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