The World Trade Bridge between the United States and Mexico is one of the most secure and fortified ports of entry along the US southern border. But drug traffickers still smuggle the majority of illicit drugs through official ports of entry like the one in Laredo. Sometimes, they get caught. On Tuesday, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized roughly 7,300 pounds of marijuana. Officers estimate the marijuana packages are worth $1.4 million.
CBP officials seized the marijuana and turned the investigation over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and special agents with Homeland Security Investigations. Tuesday’s marijuana bust comes on the heels of a weekend involving seven other marijuana seizures in the Rio Grande Valley.
CPB Says Marijuana Seizure Highlights Seriousness of “Drug Threat”
By all appearances, the 2019 Freightliner tractor-trailer carrying a commercial shipment of synthetic rubber was just another truck waiting to cross the US-Mexico border. But after a secondary inspection involving a drug-sniffing dog and a “non-intrusive imaging system,” CBP officers discovered more.
Hidden amid the commercial rubber shipment were 768 packages of marijuana, according to a CBP press statement. The packages contained a total of 7,272 pounds of marijuana. Officers said the weed carried a street value of $1.4 million dollars.
But as usual with police estimations, the numbers seem a little off. At $1.4 million, that’s $192.52 per pound of marijuana. That shakes out to about $12 an ounce, or $1.50 per eighth. If that’s correct, the true victims of this situation are whoever ends up paying standard middies prices for marijuana from Mexico.
However CBP arrived at its $1.4 million estimate, the agency is using the high-profile seizure to play up the “drug threat” of illicit marijuana trafficking across the US border. “The seizure reinforces the seriousness of the drug threat our officers face every day and our ongoing commitment to border security,” said Laredo Port of Entry Port Director Albert Flores.
Coincidentally, a high-ranking CBP official, Executive Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Field Operations Todd Owen, happened to be in Laredo Tuesday. Flores said Owen “got the chance to personally congratulate our frontline officers for their diligent work in securing the border in the cargo environment.”
Marijuana Border Busts Fuel Anti-Immigration Myths
When police inform the press about their border drug busts, they’re doing more than simply stating the facts. They’re propping up a narrative that fuels nativist fear and serves the racist policies and xenophobic rhetoric surrounding “border security” and the failed drug war.
Drug seizures are cherry-picked to portray the US-Mexico border as a porous, vulnerable, easily exploited barrier, demanding more and more funding for walls, troop deployments and militarized law enforcement agencies. But with underground sensors, infrared cameras, radar blimps, drones, surveillance towers, gunboats and aircraft, the US-Mexico border is already one of the most fortified and militarized borders in the world.
Taxpayers have poured billions into agencies and technologies tasked with hunting down migrants who cross the border. Sometimes, they are drug traffickers. But most of the time, these are families and children seeking asylum from persecution and violence, people looking for work and a better life.
Never mind the long and steady decline of arrests for unauthorized entry, down to under 400,000 in 2017 from 1.7 million in 2000. Or that most of the drugs smuggled into the US enter through legal ports of entry, not the vast hinterlands in between. Or that in general, the trafficking of marijuana into the U.S. via the Texas southern border is steeply declining.