Thursday, April 7, 2011

Smugglers improvise ramp to drive over border fence

BY CHRIS McDANIEL -
YUMA SUN


Half a million dollars worth of marijuana was seized from smugglers who used a portable truck ramp to illegally enter the U.S. from Mexico early Thursday morning.

Border Patrol agents assigned to Yuma Station were patrolling near Foothills Boulevard and the international boundary just before dawn when they encountered a 2001 Jeep Cherokee driving northbound from the fence at a high rate of speed.

“The hours of darkness are always more busy than during the daylight,” said Kenneth Quillin, supervisory Border Patrol agent for the Yuma Sector Communications Division.

Agents attempted to initiate a vehicle stop when the vehicle suddenly changed directions and headed back toward Mexico. The vehicle's occupants abandoned the vehicle in the U.S. and fled to Mexico.

“Where they returned back south is where the fence is up against a natural barrier - a mountain range - and they went around the fence,” Quillin said.

Inside the SUV, agents discovered 1,000 pounds of marijuana.

The Cherokee had entered the United States over a large ramp placed over the fence to create a portable bridge. The fence is about 12 feet tall.

“The ramp truck - the front part folds over the top of the fence so the (Cherokee) travels across the rails and the front part actually touches the ground on the other side. It actually travels up over the top,” Quillin explained.

The homemade truck ramp was crafted by smugglers, Quillin added. “They made it themselves.”

The ramp has been seized by Mexican officials. The marijuana was seized and turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the vehicle was seized by Border Patrol.

The Yuma Sector Border Patrol said as a result of its efforts to disrupt and deny transnational criminal organizations from operating with impunity, smuggling organizations often abandon their narcotics rather than risk being caught and facing prosecution.

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