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Busy week at reopened Border Patrol Highway checkpoints in New Mexico

LAS CRUCES — Border Patrol agents working at highway checkpoints in southern New Mexico had a busy week that included seizing more than $1 million in drugs hidden in a single pickup truck, the agency announced.

The 2007 black Dodge Ram truck was stopped at the checkpoint on Interstate 25 just north of Las Cruces Monday, according to a news release issued by the Border Patrol on Friday.

The release states that during a routine immigration inspection a Border Patrol dog performed a “non-intrusive sniff” of the vehicle and alerted agents of possible narcotics hidden in the truck.

Border Patrol agents searched the vehicle and found “35 plastic wrapped bundles inside the gas tank filled with 38 pounds of methamphetamine, more than two pounds of heroin and half a pound of pills,” according to the release.

Border Patrol says agents at the same checkpoint north of Las Cruces on Wednesday evening discovered $2,200 worth of methamphetamine hidden in a plastic bag under the driver’s seat of a vehicle during a routine stop.

And in two separate incidents this week Border Patrol agents at the highway checkpoint near Las Cruces arrested men convicted of crimes in the U.S. who had been deported, according to the release.

The man taken into custody Wednesday was a registered sex offender sentenced in April to 29 months in prison for “sex offenses committed against his 14 year-old stepchild in North Carolina,” Border Patrol said.

Early Thursday morning, Border Patrol agents apprehended another man at the same checkpoint. A records check showed the man had been a legal Permanent Resident in the United States but was deported in 2016 after serving an 18-year sentence for armed robbery, aggravated battery, kidnapping and false imprisonment.

“Our immigration checkpoints in Texas and New Mexico continue to be a focal point for seizures of narcotics and interdictions of human smuggling attempts,” said Gloria Chavez, Interim Chief for the Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector. “I’m extremely proud of the great work being done on a daily basis by our skilled Border Patrol agents assigned to our immigration checkpoints,” Chavez said.

The five Border Patrol highway checkpoints in New Mexico reopened on Aug. 5 after being shutdown for more than four months. The checkpoints closed March 23 so agents could be reassigned to help with the influx of migrant families and children arriving at the border earlier this year. The vast majority were from Central America and asked for asylum.

The number of migrants entering the country declined sharply the past couple of months. There is a seasonal dip in border crossings during the summer. But the Department of Homeland Security also credits increased border enforcement in Mexico where National Guard troops were deployed in June. U.S. authorities have also returned thousands of migrants to Mexico to wait as their asylum cases move through immigration court.