The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office is taking action to combat drug smugglers that are luring Tijuana citizens to participate in alleged drug trafficking operations that move narcotics across the U.S. border into San Diego.
According to ICE officials, the Tijuana ‘drug lords’ are placing ads in local newspapers alerting citizens of what appear to be reputable employment opportunities involving transporting company vehicles across the border. These jobs later turn out to be fronts for drug trafficking operations, often resulting in the innocent drivers being arrested and charged with federal drug crimes when they reach California.
Since 2011, ICE has apprehended and arrested nearly 40 such drivers at the San Diego border. This reportedly led to the seizure of 100 pounds of methamphetamine, 75 pounds of cocaine and more than 3,300 pounds of marijuana.
To alert Tijuana residents of the potential of arrest and criminal penalties, ICE has placed ads of its own into the two main newspapers in Tijuana. “Warning! Drug traffickers are announcing employment for drivers to cross to the United States,” the ads read. “Don’t be a victim of the smuggler’s trap.”
ICE says that, in most cases, the drivers suspected that something was amiss. However, needing gainful employment, they were willing to overlook the inconsistencies and irregularities for the promise of a much-needed paycheck.
For example, one Tijuana man told officers that he had searched the vehicle, suspecting that his new employer may have been up to something illegal. Despite his search, he did not find the 30 pounds of cocaine that were packed into the gas tank, which ultimately led to his arrest when he reached the U.S.