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Teen charged in largest-ever seizure of fentanyl pills at U.S. border

Teen charged in largest-ever seizure of fentanyl pills at U.S. border
Customs and Border Protection officers found drugs hidden inside a vehicle at the San Ysidro crossing. (Courtesy U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of California)

A 19-year-old U.S. citizen living in Tijuana was arrested Wednesday at the San Ysidro Port of Entry with nearly 11,500 fentanyl pills in what is believed to be the largest batch of fentanyl pills ever seized at the U.S.-Mexico border, federal authorities said.

Cristian Araujo Aguirre is accused of trying to drive across the border with the fentanyl, as well as 61 pounds of methamphetamine and 14 pounds of heroin. He was arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on a drug importation charge.

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According to Asst. U.S. Atty. Sherri Walker Hobson, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers noticed anomalies in Aguirre’s vehicle when he drove up to the San Ysidro crossing. The officers zeroed in on the front driver’s side door, the rear passenger’s side door and the spare tire.

CBP officers found eight packages of heroin hidden in the vehicle’s firewall and 29 packages of methamphetamine in the doors, a quarter panel and the spare tire, Walker Hobson said.

In the left rear quarter panel, officers discovered two bags and a box, each filled with fentanyl pills designed to resemble oxycodone, Walker Hobson said. The three packages totaled 11,490 pills.

It was “believed to be [the] largest port seizure of fentanyl pills across the Southwest border of the U.S,” according to a statement from U.S. Atty. Adam Braverman’s office.

At an arraignment in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Major, federal prosecutors requested that Aguirre be held because he is a flight risk, Walker Hobson said. A detention hearing is set for early next week.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 16.

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