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Packages of methamphetamine found in a shipment of pumpkins in California weighed nearly 6 tons and were worth more than $18 million.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in California discovered more than 1,400 packages of methamphetamine worth more than $18 million inside a shipment of pumpkin, officials said.

The discovery occurred early Monday morning, at approximately 6:47 a.m., when CBP officers working at the Otay Mesa commercial facility in California encountered a 44-year-old man driving a commercial tractor-trailer with a shipment of pumpkin, CBP officials said in a statement. published Wednesday detailing the seizure.

California authorities have discovered more than 1,400 packages of methamphetamine worth more than $18 million inside a shipment of pumpkin.

California authorities have discovered more than 1,400 packages of methamphetamine worth more than $18 million inside a shipment of pumpkin.

Courtesy: US Customs and Border Protection

“The driver, a holder of a valid border crossing card, was referred for further examination by CBP agents along with the truck and shipment,” CBP said. “At secondary, non-intrusive scanning technology was used to perform a complete scan of the truck trailer. After examination, irregularities were observed and CBP officers requested a CBP narcotics and human detection canine. The canine team responded and alerted officers to the presence of narcotics.”

In total, CBP officers discovered 1,419 packages of methamphetamine hidden inside the pumpkin shipment with a total narcotics weight of 11,469 pounds, an estimated street value of $18,350,400, according to CBP.

“The commitment of our officers to duty, excellence and the security of our nation is truly commendable. These results serve as an outstanding example of effectiveness in thwarting the illegal importation of narcotics,” said Rosa E. Hernández, port director of the Otay Mesa area. “Their exceptional efforts truly embody the highest standards of service.”

CBP officers seized the narcotics, commercial tractor and trailer. The driver was arrested and turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation.

These seizures are the result of Operation Apollo, CBP said, which is a “holistic counter-fentanyl effort that began on October 26, 2023 in Southern California and expanded to Arizona on April 10, 2024. Operation Apollo focuses on intelligence gathering and partnerships, utilizing local CBP field assets augmented by federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners to leverage resources, increase collaboration, and combat fentanyl smuggling into the United States. “.

It is estimated that at least 150 people die, on average, each day from drug overdoses related to synthetic opioids derived from fentanyl, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The commitment of our officers to duty, excellence and the security of our nation is truly commendable,” said Rosa E. Hernandez, Otay Mesa Area Port Director.

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