U.S. Border Patrol officers have arrested a 16-year-old U.S. citizen at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego for allegedly attempting to smuggle methamphetamine using a remote-controlled car. The Sunday, Nov. 17, incident is yet another instance in a long history of smugglers using ever-evolving, often unusual methods, to get drugs over the border.
Officers noticed a person walking near a secondary border wall just after midnight early Sunday whom they described as "ducking in-and-out of the agent's view," according to a news release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. After more officers were notified, the Border Patrol searched for the smuggler and found a boy hiding in what officials described as "a thick brush near the border" along with two large, black duffel bags that contained the remote-controlled car.
The boy was questioned and searched, leading the Border Patrol to find 50 packages of methamphetamine in his bags; the 55-pound haul has an estimated street value of more than $106,000, officials said.
Following the search, the teen was arrested and detained at a nearby station where he faces unspecified drug smuggling charges. It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.
"I am extremely proud of the agents' heightened vigilance and hard work in stopping this unusual smuggling scheme," Douglas Harrison, CBP's San Diego Sector chief patrol agent, said in a statement.
CBP noted Sunday's incident bore a similarity to one in 2017, when a 25-year-old man was arrested for allegedly attempting to smuggle 25 packages of meth over the border using a 2-foot-tall drone.
The more than century-old effort to curb drug smuggling at the U.S.-Mexico border continues to play out in an endless back-and-forth where smugglers and law enforcement attempt to stay a step ahead of the other. In recent years, technology has increasingly played a role, with a surge in illicit drone flights over the border using widely available store-bought unmanned mini aircrafts.
Other efforts rely on clever disguise: Border Patrol officers have seized drugs hidden in everything from burritos to bananas.
Despite efforts by President Donald Trump to halt drug and human trafficking at the border with a wall. smugglers have found a way around that, too - or rather, through it: Drug smuggling gangs have taken to sawing through new sections of the border wall using common power tools.
This article was written by Kim Bellware, a reporter for The Washington Post.