Two major drug busts tied to cross-border trucking

Authorities in California and Texas seize drugs and cash totaling $28 million in two separate cases

Officials in California and Texas recently announced two major drug seizures involving cross-border trucking operations along the United States-Mexico border.

On Tuesday, federal charges against three Mexican nationals “suspected of trafficking huge quantities of illicit drugs for the Sinaloa Cartel” into Southern California from Mexico were announced by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Robert Brewer.

Jesus Burgos Arias, Juan Alatorre Venegas and Jose Yee Perez were arrested Friday at a truck yard they operated in Otay Mesa, California, according to a release

Along with the arrests, authorities reportedly seized $3.5 million in cash and 187 pounds of cocaine, 53 pounds of fentanyl and approximately 20,000 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition and hundreds of body armor vests.

The arrests announced Tuesday were part of a five-year cross-border drug smuggling investigation that Brewer said has resulted in charges against more than 125 people, with “a significant impact on the worldwide operations of the Sinaloa Cartel.”

The second case occurred Nov. 18 at the U.S.-Mexico border in Pharr, Texas. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge stopped a tractor-trailer arriving from Mexico with a commercial shipment of corn husks for further inspection. 

CBP discovered $25 million of alleged liquid methamphetamine concealed within the tractor’s fuel tanks. The extraction process from the tanks yielded 1,255 pounds of the liquid meth, authorities said.

A truck driver was caught smuggling $25 million worth of liquid meth last week in Pharr, Texas. (Photo: CBP)

CBP seized the narcotics and truck. The case was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations.

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact