The shipment of jalapeno peppers was even spicier than they expected.
At the Otay Mesa cargo facility in San Diego last week, a 37-year-old Mexican citizen attempted to drive a tractor-trailer carrying heaping mounds of jalapeno peppers through a port of entry, authorities said.
But before Custom and Border Protection let him pull into California, an officer referred the truck for a secondary inspection. Dogs sniffed out something suspicious among the peppers, and when officers tore open the large cardboard boxes in question they found more than garden vegetables inside.
The peppers fell away, exposing stacks of 314 packages of marijuana tightly wrapped in bright green packaging.
The shipment weighed 7,560 pounds — nearly four tons — and was valued at $2.3 million, according to law enforcement.
“I am proud of the officers for seizing this significant marijuana load,” Otay Mesa Port Director Rosa Hernandez said in a CBP news release. “Not only did they prevent the drugs from reaching our community, they also prevented millions of dollars of potential profit from making it into the hands of a transnational criminal organization.”
Perishable food items — or packages made to look like perishable food items — are commonly used to disguise marijuana shipments.
CBP officers have found marijuana hidden in buckets of frozen mango pulp and stuffed inside fresh coconuts. In 2016, they discovered packages of cocaine concealed in 217 of tubs of spicy salsa.
Officers have even seized thousands of pounds of weed bundled into little green balls made to look like key limes and elongated in carrot-shaped cones that were wrapped in orange tape.
The jalapeno peppers seizure on Aug. 16 came just three days after officers found 10,642 pounds of marijuana inside a shipment of plastic auto parts at the same San Diego facility.