GILA BEND, Ariz. — Federal agents recently reported finding weapons and 120 pounds of methamphetamine hidden inside a car that had four young children riding along as passengers.
Border Patrol agents assigned to the Ajo station in southern Arizona were involved in a narcotics investigation last Friday near Gila Bend, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Tuesday.
At about 8 p.m., the agents stopped a Honda Odyssey driven by a U.S. citizen traveling near the Interstate 8 and State Route 85 junction. Four children under the age of 7 were inside the vehicle, CBP said.
Agents searched the car and allegedly found 158 wrapped packages of meth concealed inside a spare tire and suitcase. The agents additionally found a Smith & Wesson 9 mm pistol, two magazines, and 19 rounds of ammunition.
A children's beach towel was placed over the suitcase of drugs, according to pictures taken by CBP.
The children were released to a family member while the car and drugs were seized by the Maricopa County Drug Suppression Task Force. CBP did not identify the driver but said they were taken into custody by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
“Smugglers continue to exploit vulnerable populations both inside and outside the United States,” said Tucson Sector Chief John Modlin in a statement. “Smugglers promise easy cash in exchange for a quick trip to the border, but agents and officers are on the lookout for suspicious vehicles.
About a decade ago, CBP agents in Arizona observed a rising trend in drug smuggling that involved smugglers using young children as decoys to trick law enforcement. The agency began to notice multiple cases involving U.S. citizens having their young children travel with them as they attempted to transport large quantities of drugs through the state.
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