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Entries in smugglers (3)

Wednesday
Dec122012

Drug Smugglers Shoot Drugs Across US/Mexico Border with Cannon

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(YUMA, Ariz.) -- Drug smugglers continue to show creativity in inventing new ways of getting drugs across the U.S. border from Mexico.

Border Patrol agents say they believe a pneumatic cannon was used to launch dozens of containers of marijuana over the border and 500 feet into Arizona on Friday.  Eighty-five pounds of marijuana -- tucked into soup cans and then inserted into larger sealed containers -- were found in a field near the Colorado River in San Luis, Ariz.

After searching the surrounding area, agents spotted the carbon dioxide tank used to power the cannon that propelled the containers into U.S. territory.  The smugglers launched the drug-filled projectiles from a position in a brushy area immediately south of the border fence.  According to authorities, an accomplice was probably supposed to collect the containers but did not show up in time.

The contraband was discovered by a concerned citizen in a plowed field just northwest of San Luis before the U.S counterpart could collect it.  After the Border Patrol was notified and searched the field, Mexican authorities also inspected their side of the border, but no arrests have been made.

"Because of our progress in targeting and obstructing movement, they can no longer just walk across the border," Linwood Estes, a Border Patrol Agent in Yuma, Ariz., told ABC News.  "The more and more successful we are, the more and more unique they become in trying to get the drugs across."

Around two pounds of marijuana were packed into each soup can.  The contraband had an estimated value of $42,500 and is scheduled for destruction.

While this specific technique is new to the Yuma area, Mexican pot smugglers have a track record of innovative tactics to sneak their drugs across the border.

In October, two creative bandits attempted to drive a car over the border fence by using a makeshift ramp just 20 miles west of Yuma.  When the SUV became stuck on the fence, the men fled the scene before Border Patrol officers arrived.

In 2011, National Guard surveillance video caught drug smugglers using a medieval-style catapult to launch bales of marijuana across the border near Naco, Ariz.  Mexican officials recovered the catapult after it was abandoned, and said the device was capable of launching packages weighing two kilograms.

Underground tunnels and ultra light aircraft have also been used in the past year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun062012

DEA: American Airlines Workers Smuggled Cocaine into Miami, New York

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In the latest arrests of U.S. airport workers on drug smuggling charges, authorities charged that two rings of nearly 50 corrupt employees at Puerto Rico's main airport smuggled thousands of kilograms of cocaine onto commercial flights bound for mainland U.S. cities, including Miami, Orlando and New York.

One ring, allegedly led by Maribel Rodriguez Fragoso, a.k.a. La Flaca or "the Skinny Woman," was made up of workers for a baggage handling and maintenance company at San Juan's Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, and allegedly brought cocaine-stuffed backpacks and suitcases into cities up and down the East Coast between 2010 and 2012. The other, allegedly led by American Airlines employee Wilfredo Rodriguez Rosado, included American Airlines workers and is charged with smuggling more than 9,000 kilos of the white powder between 2000 and 2009.

The DEA arrested 36 people Wednesday morning, and unsealed indictments charging a total of 45 individuals with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). In addition to arrests in Puerto Rico, a DEA official says three American Airlines employees were arrested in the mainland U.S. -- two in Miami and one in Dallas.

The DEA alleges members of the La Flaca ring used their company's baggage vehicles to take suitcases stuffed with cocaine and place them directly on commercial flights. The ring would also allegedly bring cocaine into airport employee-only restrooms, where ring members would hand backpacks full of cocaine to drug couriers who would then board planes. The ring allegedly shipped cocaine to Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Orlando, among other cities.

The American Airlines ring was disrupted by the DEA in 2009 in an operation called Heavy Cargo. Twenty-three people, including nine American Airlines employees, were indicted, and Rodriguez and 21 others pled guilty. According to authorities, members of the ring transported suitcases full of cocaine from the American Airlines cargo area and onto American Airlines flights bound for such cities as Newark, New York, Miami and Orlando. The DEA Wednesday announced indictments of 20 more individuals who were allegedly involved in the smuggling ring.

The arrests come 13 years after the DEA's Operation Ramp Rats, in which the agency busted 59 individuals, most of them American Airlines employees, for alleged involvement in drug smuggling at Miami International and JFK. While some workers were acquitted, dozens were convicted or pled guilty. More recently, the DEA brought drug smuggling charges against airline or airport workers in 2007 and 2010.

"DEA will continue to dismantle these organizations that think they can blatantly use legitimate entities to carry out their smuggling operations," said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Caribbean Division, Pedro Janer.

DEA Deputy Administrator Thomas M. Harrigan said Wednesday, "Americans have a right to expect the highest integrity from those they entrust with their safety, and DEA is committed to protecting that trust. Wednesday's arrests at one of the nation's busiest airports reflect our relentless commitment to working with our partners to aggressively fight drug trafficking, not only at our nation's points of entry, but at source, transit, and arrival zones throughout the world."

The defendants in both cases are facing a minimum term of 10 years to life if convicted on all charges.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan272011

Drug Smugglers Use Catapult to Launch Bales of Pot Across Border 

Photo Courtesy - John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Grainy surveillance video shows drug smugglers putting a new twist on their crime by using a catapult to launch small bales of marijuana across the Arizona-Mexico border

The video was taken the night of Jan. 21 by National Guard troops monitoring a series of surveillance cameras near Naco, Ariz., officials from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.

The black-and-white video shows at least four men near an SUV loading a three yard catapult and flinging the pot over the border fence.

Border Patrol agents contacted Mexican authorities to thwart the smugglers, officials said.

The men reportedly fled from the area to avoid apprehension, officials said.

Mexican police seized approximately 45 pounds of marijuana, the catapult and the SUV belonging to the smugglers. The catapult was found on a flatbed towed by the SUV.

Border Patrol officials said that none of their cameras detected anybody on the U.S. side of the border, but they believe people were expected to pick up the drugs at a later time.

The disovery of the catapult is one of several innovative ways that smugglers have devised to get their drugs across the border.

In November of last year, officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration discovered an 1,800-foot underground tunnel linking a warehouse in Otey Mesa, Calif., with a similar sized building in Tijuana, Mexico. The discovery of the warehouses and tunnel netted officials 30 tons of marijuana worth $20 million.

DEA officials said the Mexican side of the tunnel was equipped with rails and lighting to send drug sleds toward the U.S. side of the tunnel, which DEA officials described as a crawl space.

DEA officials said they believe the tunnel had been completed recently and may have been in operation for about a month before it was discovered. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio