Largest sector seizure? B.P. agents seize nearly 6,000 pounds of pot

November 21, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — In what is being hailed as likely the largest marijuana seizure in the history of the U.S. Border Patrol El Centro Sector, agents this week seized close to 6,000 pounds of the drug.

Agents arrested two Mexican nationals in connection with the seizure, Marcial Jimenez Sernelos, 51, of Tijuana, and Juan Sanchez Castellanos, 22, of Mexicali.

Neither man has a criminal record, according to federal reports, and both are undocumented immigrants.

They were arraigned Wednesday in federal court in El Centro on charges of transporting an illegal substance for the purpose of selling it.

Jimenez and Sanchez will face preliminary hearings Dec. 7. They remain in the county jail without bail

The seizure came at 3 p.m. Tuesday as Border Patrol agents spotted two vehicles, a pickup and a sport-utility vehicle, drive across the border near Roy's Road off of Highway 98 about 16 miles west of Calexico.


The pickup, allegedly driven by Jimenez, was stopped when agents deployed a controlled tire-deflation device. Jimenez tried to run from agents but was quickly taken into custody.

The driver of the SUV, identified as Sanchez, stopped the vehicle on his own and ran from agents but he too was taken into custody.

When agents checked the backs of both vehicles they found marijuana totaling 5,997 pounds.

After an investigation by the Border Patrol it was determined both vehicles were stolen.

The case has been turned over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Border Patrol Agent Manuel Figueroa said the seizure is thought to be the largest in the history of the El Centro Sector.

Figueroa said such a seizure is significant because it cuts at those who seek to move such drugs onto the streets.

"First of all, you get 6,000 pounds of marijuana off the streets," Figueroa said. "That hurts the drug smugglers."

He added, "You get the dope off the streets, so you don't have kids getting their hands on it."

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

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