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www.wmfd.com - Drug smugglers are getting creative when it comes to getting their cargo across the U.S./Mexican border and we look at what they're doing and what authorities are doing to combat it. }}" />

   
 
 
Drug Smugglers Get Creative On The Heroin Superhighway

Story By: Larry Stine

 

 

 
 
 
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  Original Published: 6/15/2014

Drug smugglers are getting creative when it comes to getting their cargo across the U.S./Mexican border. We look at what they're doing and what authorities are doing to combat it. What appears to be a shipment of Coca-Cola, is a cover for a different commodity with broad consumer appeal - heroin. The soda shipment scheme, one of the latest smuggling attempts foiled by border agents at the Nogales port of entry. "You know they're always ahead of us," says Joe Agostini, Assistant Port Director in Nogales, Arizona. "They're very innovative." And they are determined to push heroin north. Agostinia says just halfway through this fiscal year, his agents have already seized more heroin than what was seized during the last three years. Those acting as mules for Mexico's powerful Sinaloa Cartel try every tactic possible, packing it on their bodies and walking it through as day visitors. "Now we're catching people that are 82-years-old," Agostini says. "Here comes grandma coming through the port of entry." Or they hide heroin in family mini vans and commercial trucks and hope to avoid often meticulous inspections. "The gas tank very common, It's coming more sophisticated," Agostini says. "The tires. They basically built a donut that's made out of metal. It's a compartment within a compartment. The air conditioning, the ducts. Very difficult." Heroin's dominance in the drug trade is also evident about 100 miles north of the Nogales port of entry in the Verol Valley, where you'll find Pinal County Sheriff's Lt. Matthew Thomas patrolling the desert. "So a couple years back, if you found a pound of heroin, that was a lot, now and days, you can find a load of 50 or 60 pounds or 100 pounds of heroin," Thomas says. Thomas often comes across backpackers hauling their expensive cargo. "They'll come in and sit down and rest and wait for their ride to get here," Thomas says. "In the high points you have scouts. Their role is to observe and report via radio or phone to their bosses whether they can or cannot move in that area." "If Smugglers are successful, they make it here to Metro Phoenix, a major distribution hub for the nation," says KPNX reporter Joe Dana. "The DEA says within three days, the heroin ends up on streets in the east and Midwest." The shipments hit cities big and small. Hot spots include Chicago, Atlanta, New York City, Topeka, Kansas; Dayton, Ohio; and Louisville, Kentucky. Thomas says it's difficult to say how much of an impact they are making against the heroin trade. It's an endeavor he describes as a cat and mouse game that's constantly evolving. "How ever we caught them, they'll switch up how they do business," Thomas says. "It's constant back and forth, our tactics, their counter-tactics."

   
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