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2 women accused of smuggling arrested at border; 81-year-old allegedly had 92 pounds of heroin

2 women accused of smuggling arrested at border; 81-year-old allegedly had 92 pounds of heroin
Customs and Border Protection officers say they found about 188 pounds of drugs, including 7,000 oxycodone pills, hidden inside a 28-year-old woman's car Thursday at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. (Courtesy Customs and Border Protection)

Officers at two San Diego County border crossings seized more than 270 pounds of drugs within 15 hours and arrested two women on suspicion of smuggling those drugs.

One was an 81-year-old accused of having 92 pounds of heroin in her car, federal officials said Thursday.

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That woman, a U.S. citizen, was stopped about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Tecate Port of Entry when a drug-sniffing dog zeroed in on her 2011 Chrysler 200, Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Shalene Thomas said.

In a secondary inspection area, CBP officers discovered 34 packages of heroin totaling 92 pounds in the Chrysler’s rocker panels, Thomas said. The estimated street value is more than $870,000.

“Cartels will try and manipulate anyone to smuggle their narcotics through the ports of entry,” San Diego CBP Director of Field Operations Pete Flores said. “CBP officers are aware of the many tactics used by the cartels and remain ever vigilant to stop anyone attempting to smuggle narcotics.”

Officers arrested the 81-year-old and turned her over to agents with Homeland Security Investigations.

About 4 a.m. Thursday, CBP officers using an imaging system at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry noticed an anomaly in a 2006 Dodge Caliber driven by a 28-year-old U.S. citizen, Thomas said. Officers searched the woman’s car and found 156 packages of drugs in the dashboard, back seat, quarter panels and back bumper.

The load included methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl and 7,000 oxycodone pills, Thomas said. The estimated street value was nearly $1 million.

CBP officers seized the drugs and car and turned the suspect over to Homeland Security Investigations. She was booked into Las Colinas women's jail in Santee.

CBP officials did not release the name of either woman.

Riggins writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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