U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Columbus port of entry seized 334 pounds of marijuana earlier this week.
CBP officers found the load just after 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, when a 2001 Chevrolet Silverado arrived for inspection from Mexico.
The CBP officer at the primary inspection referred the driver for an intensive inspection, during which they located the drug load hidden in the truck’s bed.
“CBP Officers at the Columbus port of entry remain vigilant and focused on all threats in an effort to protect our country and community from dangerous drugs,” said Columbus Port Director Tony Hall. “Officer experience and technology played a vital role in stopping this attempt to smuggle over 300 pounds of marijuana.”
The driver, 20 year old Inocente Rivera of Ascensión, Chihuahua, Mexico appeared in federal court in Las Cruces, New Mexico on May 15 for an initial appearance on a criminal complaint charging him with possession with intent to distribute 164.4 kilograms of marijuana.
According to the criminal complaint, Rivera allegedly committed the offense in Luna County, New Mexico on May 12.
“He tried to enter the United States at the port of entry in Columbus, New Mexico allegedly with 305 wrapped bundles of marijuana hidden in the cargo bed of the vehicle he was driving,” CBP officials shared from the complaint. “Rivera allegedly intended to distribute the smuggled marijuana in the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers inspected the vehicle and located the hidden contraband.”
Rivera is currently in custody pending a detention hearing on May 19; if convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison. CBP officials add that a criminal complaint is only an accusation; a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.