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CBP: Children being used as decoys to smuggle drugs

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CBP: Children being used as decoys to smuggle drugs

5 kids in 2 days removed from vehicles carrying pot, border patrol says

In what U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said is becoming a trend, children are being used as decoys by drug smugglers.

In the past 48 hours, Border Patrol agents assigned to the Tucson Sector removed five children from vehicles in two failed smuggling attempts, the Border Patrol said in a Wednesday press release.

A canine team working Tuesday at the I-19 checkpoint alerted agents to a vehicle driven by a 36-year-old U.S. citizen accompanied by her four minor children ages 17, 9, 6 and 4, as it approached the primary inspection.

The driver was referred for a secondary inspection of the vehicle where agents discovered eight bundles of marijuana concealed in the trunk. The bundles had a combined weight of 197 pounds and an estimated value of $98,500.

The vehicle, drugs and children were transported to the Nogales Station. Child Protective Services was contacted and took custody of the children and their mother was held for prosecution on federal drug smuggling charges.

On Monday, another child was removed from a vehicle seized by Willcox Station agents at the S.R. 80 checkpoint. The driver, a 34-year old U.S. citizen and mother of the 8-year-old child, was attempting to smuggle 104 pounds of marijuana, worth $52,000, concealed in the vehicle’s trunk, the Border Patrol said.

Agents working at Border Patrol checkpoints may see hundreds of faces every day and have seconds to determine whether a person appears to be involved in criminal activity. Smugglers try to exploit this by using people they believe do not appear suspect, the Border Patrol said.

Agents use technology and canine teams to ensure criminals are caught and that children are taken out of harm’s way, the Border Patrol said.

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