The Tribune News Service reports that a mother traveling with her five children over the border in a minivan has been arrested after officials discovered 231 pounds of drugs hidden in the van. The woman, who is 34 years old, was traveling from Mexico after midnight Monday through the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in to the U.S. She and her five children were stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for further interrogation and a search of the Honda Odyssey she was driving.
The minivan was sent through an imaging machine that discovered discrepancies in the spare tire well, quarter panel, doors and gas tank. Physical searches uncovered 206 wrapped packages of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. The street value of the drugs was estimated to be over $1 million.
The woman’s name has not been released, but she was arrested and taken into custody at the Santee county women’s jail. The choice of this jail indicates she may only be facing state and not federal charges. The five children traveling with her were given to a family member. Customs and Border Protection has not revealed the ages of the children or any further details about them.
The director of field operations for CBP in San Diego, Pete Flores, says that agents have seen all sorts of forms of drug smuggling at the ports of entry, but parents smuggling with their children in tow are always the most difficult cases.
*Photo credit Hayne Palmour IV/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS