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Dogs help detect nearly 6 tons of meth hidden inside squash shipment in California

Meth, cocaine found in jalapeño paste shipment
Meth, cocaine found hidden in jalapeño paste shipment 00:22

Law enforcement officials — with the help of sniffer dogs — seized nearly six tons of methamphetamine hidden within a shipment of green squash this week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. 

The illicit substance was discovered inside 1,419 packages within the squash shipment, the agency said in a news release

The shipment was found in a commercial tractor-trailer being driven by a 44-year-old man on Monday evening. When CBP officers at the Otay Mesa port in San Diego, California encountered the man, they requested that his truck undergo further examination, the agency said. 

After scans of the tractor trailer detected "irregularities," a canine team responded and alerted officers to the presence of narcotics. 

The 11,469 pounds of meth found have an estimated street value of over $18 million, the CBP said. 

A package of methamphetamine found among green squash. U.S. Customs and Border Protection

The drugs were seized, as was the vehicle. The unidentified driver, who had a valid border crossing card, was turned over to the custody of Homeland Security for further investigation. 

The seizure was done as part of Operation Apollo, a CBP operation working to target fentanyl smuggling in southern California and Arizona. The operation connects local CBP officers with federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners, the agency said, increasing collaboration between the groups and allowing them to share resources and intelligence.

 "Our officers' commitment to duty, excellence, and the safety of our nation is truly commendable. These results serve as an outstanding display of effectiveness in thwarting the illegal importation of narcotics," stated Rosa E. Hernandez, the Otay Mesa Area Port Director, in the news release. "Their exceptional efforts truly embody the highest standards of service."

Nearly six tons of methamphetamine were found by officers.  U.S. Customs and Border Protection

It's far from the first time a massive shipment of illicit drugs has been found inside a food shipment. More than 750 pounds of fentanyl pills were found hidden among a shipment of green beans being transported through the Otay Mesa port in April 2023.  The deadly synthetic opioid has also been found smuggled in flour bags and candy boxes, CBS News previously reported. 

CBP agents found more than 3,000 pounds of methamphetamine and cocaine hidden in bins of jalapeño paste being transported over the border in December 2023. 

Since Oct. 1, 2023, CBP agents have seized over 12,000 shipments of illegal drugs at border checkpoints. That includes over 3,300 methamphetamine seizures. 

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