CBP Officers Seize More Than 3,000 Pounds of Marijuana Hidden in Fresh Broccoli Shipment

Authorities have seized more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana that was found concealed in a shipment of fresh broccoli aboard a tractor trailer at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Customs and Border Protection intercepted the commercial shipment at the Pharr International Bridge cargo facility in Pharr, Texas on Saturday, the CBP said in a news release.

CBP officers referred the shipment arriving from Mexico for further examination. During a more thorough inspection, officers discovered the shipment contained 378 packages of suspected marijuana.

The packages contained 3,159 pounds of the alleged drug, worth $632,000.

"This is a substantial amount of narcotics that will not make it into our communities," said Port Director Carlos Rodriguez, Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry.

The CBP seized the shipment, the tractor trailer and the suspected marijuana. Homeland Security Investigations is continuing the investigation.

CBP
Packages containing more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana that were seized by CBP officers at Pharr International Bridge in Texas. U.S. Customs and Border Protection

On Wednesday, the CBP warned that the coronavirus pandemic isn't deterring attempts to smuggle drugs across the border after agents seized more than 571 pounds of marijuana in four separate incidents in Texas over the course of two days.

Rio Grande City agents responded to a reported drug smuggling along the Rio Grande River in Roma, Texas on Tuesday, the CBP said.

"As agents arrived, they observed five drug smugglers swim back to Mexico," a CBP spokesperson said. Agents searched the immediate area and discovered three bundles of marijuana, weighing more than 200 pounds and valued at over $162,000.

Later that day, agents in Roma received information that the driver of a Ford F-150 pickup truck had off-loaded several bundles at a residence and abandoned the vehicle. A search of the property led to the discovery of more than 230 pounds of marijuana worth over $186,000. The driver was later located and arrested.

Hours later, Brownsville agents observed multiple smuggling suspects traveling north of the Rio Grande. The suspects abandoned the drugs and attempted to abscond as agents tried to arrest them, the CBP said.

During a search of the area, two Mexican nationals were arrested and two bundles of marijuana—valued at $56,000—were seized.

On Wednesday, an agent on patrol near Brownsville saw three people running north of the river levee carrying bundles of marijuana on their backs.

The suspects abandoned the drugs and tried to flee as more agents responded to the incident. Two Mexican nationals were arrested and more than 71 pounds of marijuana, worth over $57,000, was seized.

"Even with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, human smugglers continue to try these brazen attempts with zero regard for the lives they endanger nor to the health of the citizens of our great nation," a CBP spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Saturday's incident is not the first time the agency has discovered drugs hidden in a shipment of broccoli attempting to come into the country.

In February this year, CBP officers at the Pharr cargo facility discovered more than $18 million of hard drugs—including suspected methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and marijuana—inside a shipment of the fresh vegetables.