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Border Agents Seize Meth, Marijuana, Three Motorists

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Agents seized more than $650,000 worth of illegal drugs at the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in San Clemente within a 24-hour period, authorities said.

In the final bust, agents found about 91 pounds of marijuana, valued at about $73,000. The illegal weed was found in the gas tank of a 1977 Dodge van Thursday morning, said Mario Villarreal, a Border Patrol supervisory agent.

At about 8:30 a.m., agents detected the marijuana using a “borescope,” a camera-like device that can “look” into a gas tank. Agents searched the car after the male driver appeared nervous and a drug-sniffing dog alerted officials to it, Villarreal said.

That followed two incidents Wednesday that authorities described this way:

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Agents noticed that the driver of a Pontiac Grand Am appeared nervous and in a hurry to get through the border checkpoint. The man was directed to a secondary inspection area, where he consented to an inspection of his car. A dog led officers to the dashboard, where 12 bundles of methamphetamine were hidden.

Later Wednesday, border agents noticed an Acura Integra that appeared heavily loaded. When agents asked the driver to open the trunk, they found 238 pounds of marijuana.

Authorities estimated the value of the methamphetamine, which weighed about 16 pounds, at about $388,800 and the value of the marijuana at $190,400.

“These were all individual events. There was no information, no ongoing cases. It was just good work,” Villarreal said.

The Border Patrol did not release the identities of the three suspects, all of whom were arrested. The drugs and automobiles were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Villarreal said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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