LAS CRUCES – A Customs and Border Protection officer at the Columbus port of entry this morning snagged a teenager trying to smuggle marijuana into the United States, the sixth case involving juvenile smugglers nabbed at the port this year.
The six cases so far this year are twice the number generated at the Columbus port all of last year when children 17 years or younger were caught trying to smuggle drugs, according to CBP spokesman Roger Maier.
In the most recent case, a CBP officer working at the Columbus port found 14.9 pounds of marijuana in the backpack of a 14-year-old boy, a U.S. citizen from the Mexican border town of Palomas, during an inspection at 6:30 a.m.
The boy walked into the port of entry and a CBP officer working in a primary inspection booth discovered 14 marijuana-filled bundles in the child’s backpack. The teen and the drugs were turned over to the multi-agency Border Drug Task Force for prosecution, according to CBP.
The six cases involving alleged smugglers under 17 years old represent 40 percent of all the marijuana seizures at the Columbus port this year.
“This number should be alarming to the parents of area teens because the consequences of this illegal activity can be severe and life altering,” said Columbus port director Robert Reza.
Each school day CBP officers at the Columbus port process between 350 to 400 students, generally U.S. citizens from Palomas who are bused to Deming public schools. Students are subject to the same inspection process, including a review of documents, as any other border crosser, Maier said.
Other juvenile smuggling cases this year at the port of entry include: the seizure March 26 of 7.5 pounds of marijuana found in the backpack of a 16-year-old girl, an American citizen from Palomas; the discovery March 22 of one pound of marijuana found taped to the leg of a 17-year-old boy, an American citizen from Palomas; the seizure Feb. 22 of 14.9 pounds of marijuana found hidden in the seats of a car driven by a 16-year-old girl, an American citizen from Palomas; and the capture Feb. 7 of 2.2 pounds of marijuana found in the backpack of a 14-year-old boy, a Mexican national from Palomas.
The largest drug seizure involved 483 pounds of marijuana discovered in the floor of a vehicle driven by a 16-year-old boy, a U.S. citizen from Deming.