CBP El Paso Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha. “Do not cross the border with any amount of marijuana at all.” | Photo courtesy CBP
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at ports of entry in El Paso, west Texas and New Mexico have performed more than two dozen small marijuana seizures since the beginning of April.
Area CBP officers have reported 26 cases involving incidents of people possessing just a few grams or ounces since April 1.
“As some states have decriminalized the use and possession of marijuana it is important that members of the traveling public clearly understand that federal law still prohibits the importation of any amount of this drug,” said CBP El Paso Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha. “Do not cross the border with any amount of marijuana at all.”
CBP officials share that violators may face several consequences. The contraband and associated paraphernalia will be seized. Individuals can also face federal civil penalties of up to $1,000.
CBP officers may also turn the case over to state and local departments for prosecution.
“Processing these cases also has a negative impact on our ability to manage the flow of legitimate traffic,” said acting CBP El Paso port Director Greta Campos.” When we encounter a case like this a CBP officer is taken off the line for several hours and that lane will be closed until the process is completed.”
In addition to the marijuana seizures area CBP officers continue to encounter and stop other drug loads as well. Since the beginning of April area CBP officers have made 20 other drug busts.
Officials say those seizures netted 299 pounds of methamphetamine, 99.8 pounds of cocaine, six pounds of heroin and 5.4 pounds of fentanyl. CBP officers have also encountered 21 people attempting to cross prohibited medications during this time.
Additionally, CBP officers performing inspections at area ports have identified 44 wanted persons since the start of the month. They have also prevented the introduction of prohibited agriculture items 14 times.
Those smuggled products included pork, tomatoes, oranges, avocados, apples, guavas, and live plants. Penalties in the amount of $3,300 were assessed.
Officials added that travelers need to declare all items to the CBP officer upon entry to the U.S.
“If a declared item is prohibited in many cases it can be abandoned without consequence,” CBP officials shared. “If an undeclared item is discovered during the inspection process then various consequences may be applied.”