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250 pounds of pot seized after pursuit

February 16, 2002|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — The U.S. Border Patrol anti-smuggling unit, joined by police here, nabbed six Mexican nationals and 250 pounds of marijuana following a pursuit that started in Calexico on Tuesday.

The case started about 1:30 p.m. when agents doing surveillance over an area east of Calexico known for smuggling saw a suspicious group on the Mexican side of the border.

The agents witnessed the group move into the New River and float into the United States, using duffel bags as floatation devices, according to Michael Capeci, an investigator with the county District Attorney's Office assigned to the county Narcotic Task Force.

Capeci said agents then saw the group leave the New River on the U.S. side and move toward a car.

The group members put the duffel bags in the car and got inside. Agents in an unmarked vehicle flashed their emergency lights and attempted a traffic stop.


The driver fled and a pursuit started that continued at high speeds into the city of Brawley, where police in that city took over the chase.

The pursuit ended when the vehicle crashed in the south alley of the 1600 block of River Drive in Brawley.

According to Capeci, six people in the vehicle fled and a foot pursuit followed, during which all six were taken into custody.

Duffel bags containing a total of 250 pounds of marijuana were recovered, Capeci said.

The six arrested, all men and Mexican nationals, were Jose Ernesto Aguirre-Alba, Jesus Arellano-Garcia, Rodrigo Duarte-Nuñez, Margarito Duarte-Zaragoza, Bernabe Ramirez- Ramirez and Hector Villa-Blanco.

All were booked into county jail on suspicion of possessing marijuana. Their bail for that count was set at $25,000. However, they had immigration holds, which means they were being held without bail.

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

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