Mexicali teen arrested after methamphetamine found in car

May 05, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — A 16-year-old Mexicali girl was being held in the county juvenile hall Friday, a day after she was arrested on suspicion of bringing methamphetamine into the country through the downtown Calexico Port of Entry.

The girl, whose name was not released because she is a juvenile, was taken into custody at 7:30 p.m. after U.S. Customs inspectors reportedly found 35 pounds of methamphetamine in the car she was driving.

The manufactured narcotic was concealed in 30 wrapped packages in the quarter panel of the car.

Inspectors noted the girl, a U.S. citizen living in Mexicali, was nervous as she tried to cross the border.

Using a high-technology "buster" density device to probe the vehicle, inspectors observed unusual readings around the quarter panel.

Bonnie Lemert, U.S. Customs Service Calexico-area ports director, said, "Young people who get involved in illegal activity need to know there are severe consequences of their actions."


She added, "They face incarceration and a criminal record."

Lemert said parents should talk to their children about "the human cost" of getting involved in illegal activities.

The arrest of the girl points to what has become an issue along portions of the southwest border — a growing number of young people attempting to smuggle drugs into the United States.

"There seems to be an increasing use of juveniles by drug organizations," said Vince Bond, a Customs spokesman based in San Diego.

While he did not have specific information about the number of youths arrested for drug smuggling in Southern California, he did say there are statistics that show a growing number of youths have been caught for drug smuggling in other areas along the southwest border.

According to a press release from U.S. Customs in El Paso, Texas, the number of juveniles caught smuggling drugs in that area has been on the rise since 1997.

In that year there were 83 juvenile violators caught. In 1998 that rose to 99 and in 1999 it climbed to 148. In 2000 the number jumped to 155, and this year in El Paso alone the number of juvenile drug smugglers caught has reached 57 as of April. Officials say at that pace the number of juveniles caught importing drugs could exceed the number caught in El Paso in 2000.

Bond added he cannot say whether the girl arrested in Calexico was thought to be smuggling methamphetamine for an organization.

He did say those who smuggle commercial amounts of drugs typically have been paid to do so by an organization.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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