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Alleged drug runners wore stealthy shoes

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — U.S. Border Patrol agents detained four Mexican nationals on Tuesday who they say carried $100,000 worth of pot over New Mexico’s southwestern border wearing camouflage and special shoes.

According to an emailed news release, the men will be held pending criminal and immigration prosecution.

A photo showing the $100,000 worth of pot Border Patrol agents seized from four men crossing the border Tuesday. (CBP)

Officials say a Border Patrol agent saw the alleged smugglers walking near NM 113, south of Playas at 9:30 p.m. Agents atop ATVs and a National Guard helicopter surrounded the area and found the men hiding in brush.

“The subjects were wearing camouflage clothing and custom-made footwear designed to mask their tracks as they smuggled contraband north away from the border,” according to the release. “All four subjects are citizens of Mexico, and were in the United States illegally.”

According to the release, agents found several large burlap sacks nearby, and inside was almost 140 pounds of pot with an estimated street value of around $108,000.

Border Patrol released photos of the haul and the alleged smugglers, wearing U.S. Army camouflage uniforms and holding up the shoes they wore.

Officials said the seizure “emphasizes” the importance of National Guard assisting Border Patrol. Earlier this month, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she was considering pulling New Mexico National Guard troops from the border.

This is the second such pot seizure in January. Border Patrol agents snagged 265 pounds from two suspects near Antelope Wells as the agency was taking a large group of migrants into custody.

Border Patrol agent Ramiro Cordero couldn’t give exact numbers but said drugs being hoofed across the border is “very common,” especially in spots where the border wall is no more than barbed wire.

“Drugs don’t walk; somebody has got to mule them,” he said.

Such seizures have become less common, however, Cordero said, due to the number of agents “busy” with large migrant groups crossing the southern border.

In 2006, he said most migrants were Mexican nationals and could be turned back to their country of origin, but now many are from Central America and have to be detained.

“You can imagine what that does to personnel,” he said. “This is what we’re facing.”