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Border agents intercept 11 lbs of heroin, find $900k of pot

Border Patrol agents seized over a million dollars in narcotics over the weekend, as they intercepted 11 pounds of heroin and found an abandoned load of 1,800 pounds of marijuana.

Friday, two Mexican nationals were caught at the Interstate 19 checkpoint. Each was attempting to smuggle 4.5 pounds of black-tar heroin, a news release from Customs and Border Protection said.

Sunday, a U.S. citizen was arrested at the checkpoint when agents discovered 1.75 pounds of heroin hidden under his clothing.

"They can try any type of method but the most common that we see in stuff like this is usually body carriers," said Border Patrol Agent Jason Rheinfrank.

"The smuggling operations, you know they know that we're on top our game, it's harder to pass through, so they usually pass it in smaller amounts in hopes to get it through the checkpoints, through the border, or through the field," he said.

The combined value of the intercepted heroin is $130,000, Rhienfrank said.

The payment for attempting to smuggle heroin varies greatly.

"I don't know what the dollar figure is, usually what they tell us it differentiates so much there's no set number," Rhienfrank said. "It depends case by case, some of the carriers are professionals they've been doing it their whole life —it's all they know — and others are coerced into it."

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But the price of failure is high and may include federal charges, Rhienfrank said.

Sunday, Casa Grande Station agents responding to a tip found an abandoned stolen Chevy Suburban loaded with 1,800 pound of pot, the release said.

Agents searched the area but did not locate any suspects.

The marijuana, worth about $915,000, was turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office took custody of the vehicle, which had been reported stolen in Avondale.

TucsonSentinel.com’s Rebekah Zemansky contributed to this report.

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Tubes of heroin were discovered taped to a man's abdomen at the Interstate 19 checkpoint.