Border Patrol agents find $1 million worth of cocaine in SUV on 5 Freeway

Four stacks of plastic-encased packages sit on a concrete floor.
Border Patrol agents discovered 30 bundles of cocaine, weighing nearly 84 pounds and valued at more than $1 million, after a traffic stop on the 5 Freeway near San Clemente.
(U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Border Patrol agents found more than 83 pounds of cocaine worth over $1 million during a traffic stop on the 5 Freeway just north of San Diego County, officials said Monday.

Agents also found more than 18 pounds of methamphetamine during a separate traffic stop earlier in the day off the 15 Freeway near the community of Rainbow, plus 3 pounds more at the driver’s home in eastern San Diego County, Border Patrol spokesman Agent Angel Moreno said.

Most of the methamphetamine in the earlier stop was found Thursday afternoon inside a Mitsubishi Galant when the driver “hastily exited the freeway” after noticing Border Patrol agents patrolling the 15, Moreno said in a statement. An agent followed the car off the freeway and pulled it over.

“The driver of the vehicle, a 23-year-old male U.S. citizen, exited the vehicle and immediately assumed a hand-cuffing position, placing his hands behind his back,” Moreno said in the news release. “Upon questioning, the driver then freely admitted that he had an unknown quantity of narcotics inside the vehicle.”

Bundles of methamphetamine sit on the truck on a car.
Border Patrol agents found more than 18 pounds of methamphetamine inside a Mitsubishi Galant near Rainbow, Calif.
(U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

The driver also told agents there were additional packages of drugs at his El Cajon residence, Moreno said. In total, the agents discovered 18.3 pounds of methamphetamine in the car and a little more than 3 pounds at the driver’s home.

Border Patrol agents seized the car and turned over the driver and his passenger, a 22-year-old U.S. citizen, to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Later that same day, agents near the San Clemente Border Patrol checkpoint on the 5 Freeway spotted a Ford Escape driving erratically and nearly colliding with other vehicles on the freeway, Moreno said. Agents stopped the SUV and — after a drug-sniffing dog zeroed in on the floorboards — discovered 30 bundles of cocaine hidden in a secret compartment.

The cocaine, totaling 83.77 pounds, is valued at more than $1 million, according to Moreno, who said the drugs and the driver, a 23-year-old Mexican man, were turned over to the DEA.