Canine leads to major seizure
BY ERICK SANTOS
Times staff writer
A curious canine at the Gateway to the Americas Bridge (International Bridge I) alerted Customs inspectors Monday to one of the largest heroin seizures on the Texas-Mexico border, officials said.
According to reports, after a routine inspection at the primary booth, the driver of a 1997 Ford F-150 pickup attempted to continue into the city, but misfortune hailed him as his truck stalled while exiting the primary canopy.
Jesus Humberto Mendoza, 24, a resident alien from San Antonio, pushed his vehicle toward the secondary inspection post where Customs canine "Harley" became responsive to the vehicle. Inspectors immediately initiated a secondary inspection.
"Harley" alerted inspectors to the dashboard area of the vehicle. Inspectors then scanned the vehicle with mobile X-ray imaging that detected discrepancies in the dashboard area. Continued inspection of the pick-up disclosed 18 packages containing 59 pounds of heroin worth an estimated $60 million.
"This is the largest seizure of heroin by U.S. Customs on the Texas-Mexico border since the 55-pound seizure in Del Rio in 1996," said Customs Port Director Gene Garza.
Customs special agents arrested and charged Mendoza with importation of a controlled substance and he was remanded to the Webb County jail where he awaited a judicial hearing.
Customs agents are continuing the investigation.
According to Garza, there have been very few heroin seizures this year.
"Drug seizures are not declining and neither are our efforts," Garza said. "We have done a tremendous job protecting the U.S. borders and keeping drugs away from our community."
(Staff writer Erick Santos can be reached at 728-2565 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)