$3M in drugs stashed in backpacks seized near Lukeville
Border Patrol agents near Lukeville, Arizona seized two backpacks containing $3 million worth of narcotics on Saturday and arrested one man, authorities said.
Around 5 p.m., Tucson Sector agents saw three people walking north from the U.S.-Mexico border, about a half-mile west of the Lukeville Port of Entry. The agents responded, apprehending a 40-year-old Mexican man and recovered the two backpacks containing a combined total of 69 pounds in drugs, said a spokesman with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol's parent agency.
The incident occurred near Lukeville, a remote town surrounded by the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, about 109 miles southwest of Tucson. Throughout this year, CBP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have spent billions building a new 30-foot-high wall along the border west of Lukeville, as well as new roads, and concrete culverts for water drainage.
This included blasting along the southern edge of the wildlife refuge, including blasting on the top of Monument Hill, and construction along near the sensitive Quitobaquito Springs—an important way-stop for travelers in that part of the desert for centuries, and a place considered sacred by the Tohono O'odham Nation.
Inside the backpacks, agents found approximately 55 pounds of meth and 14 pounds of fentanyl, with a combined street value of more than $3 million, a CBP spokesman said.
From October 1 to November 30, U.S. Border Patrol agents have intercepted around 2,800 pounds of methamphetamine and 213 pounds of fentanyl nationwide. That pales in comparison to the seizures of officials at the national ports, where CBP officers have seized 36,000 pounds of meth, and more than 1,800 pounds in fentanyl during the same time period.
Over the last five years, agency statistics show that while seizures of methamphetamine and fentanyl have climbed, seizures of marijuana have declined as the market for drugs along the border has shifted in recent years.
The man who was arrested was illegally present in the United States and faces federal charges for drug smuggling, CBP's spokesman said. The suspect and narcotics were turned over to special agents with Homeland Security Investigations, a part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.