Border Agents Seize 433 Pounds of Pot in 4 Incidents

TIMES STAFF WRITER

U.S. Border Patrol agents in San Diego foiled four marijuana smuggling attempts in a 12-hour period, seizing 433 pounds of marijuana valued at more than $200,000.

The four unrelated incidents happened between 4 p.m. Monday and 4 a.m. Tuesday, said Border Patrol spokesman Ted Swofford.

"All of them were just stumbled on in one night," Swofford said.

Four men, three of them illegal aliens from Mexico, were arrested during the seizures and are being held at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance, Swofford said.

In the first incident, Border Patrol agents at the San Onofre checkpoint said they found more than 30 pounds of marijuana in a car and arrested Alex Velasco, 42, of Los Angeles, and Luis Mendival, 22, an illegal alien who had been living in Whittier.

About four hours later, a Border Patrol agent saw a car drive south and park near a closed warehouse near the border on Otay Mesa.

When the car didn't come back north, the agent investigated and found it abandoned, Swofford said.

The agent resumed his patrol but later returned to the car. He found a duffel bag filled with marijuana in the back seat and three more duffel bags of marijuana in the trunk--a total of 135 pounds.

At about 1 a.m. Tuesday, agents from the Imperial Beach station stopped two illegal aliens carrying duffel bags across a Little League baseball field about three-quarters of a mile north of the Mexican border. Agents found 93 pounds of marijuana and a stolen 9-millimeter, semi-automatic pistol. Arrested were Javier Guillen, 22, and Jesus Martinez, 22.

Three hours later at 4 a.m., other agents from the Imperial Beach station saw a car drive through a hole in the border fence south of the 3200 block of Monument Road and park in the driveway of a house.

When agents got to the car, the driver was gone but they found a large bag in the back seat stuffed with tin cans filled with marijuana. Five more bags of marijuana-filled tin cans were found in the trunk.

"We're always looking for narcotics, and this was a result of that," Swofford said, "but we certainly didn't know any of them were coming."

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