Massive 6-ton meth haul worth $18M discovered in squash shipment containing 1,400 packages

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in California made a significant discovery when they found a shipment of squash containing over 1,400 packages of methamphetamine. The total value of the drugs is estimated to be worth more than $18 million. This seizure highlights the ongoing efforts of law enforcement to combat the illegal drug trade and protect the community from the harmful effects of narcotics.

According to a statement released on Wednesday, officials from the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) made a significant discovery at the Otay Mesa Commercial Facility in California. The incident occurred around 6:47 a.m. on Monday morning when CBP officers came across a 44-year-old man who was driving a commercial tractor-trailer carrying a load of squash.

According to CBP, the CBP officers referred the driver, who is a valid border crossing card holder, for additional examination along with the tractor-trailer and the shipment. During the secondary inspection, non-intrusive scanning technology was used to thoroughly scan the tractor-trailer. Upon examination, irregularities were detected, prompting the CBP officers to request the assistance of a CBP human and narcotics detection canine. The canine team promptly responded and alerted the officers to the presence of narcotics.

According to CBP, the shipment of squash contained a total of 1,419 packages of methamphetamine, weighing 11,469 pounds. The estimated street value of these narcotics is $18,350,400.

“Our officers’ dedication to their duty, pursuit of excellence, and safeguarding our nation’s security is truly praiseworthy. The achieved outcomes stand as a remarkable demonstration of their effectiveness in preventing the unlawful smuggling of narcotics,” Rosa E. Hernandez, Otay Mesa Area Port Director, acknowledged. “Their exceptional endeavors truly exemplify the utmost level of service.”

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Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers took possession of the drugs, commercial tractor, and trailer. They apprehended the driver and handed him over to Homeland Security Investigation for additional inquiries.

The seizures are part of a comprehensive counter-fentanyl initiative called Operation Apollo, initiated by CBP. It was launched on October 26, 2023, in southern California and later expanded to Arizona on April 10, 2024. Operation Apollo aims to combat fentanyl smuggling into the United States through intelligence gathering and partnerships. It leverages the combined resources of local CBP field assets and various federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners to enhance collaboration and effectively target fentanyl smuggling.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 150 people die every day from drug overdoses related to synthetic opioids derived from fentanyl.

According to Rosa E. Hernandez, the Otay Mesa Area Port Director, the dedication of our officers to duty, excellence, and the safety of our nation is truly commendable.

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