US drug couriers busted at the border

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After being found with 25 pounds of cocaine in his car in January 2011, Alan Enrique Tirado, a U.S. citizen living in Sonora, Mexico, told investigators that he was to be paid $2,000 to drive drugs to Phoenix.

Credit: Yuma County (Ariz.) Sheriff's Office

Below are portraits of some of the U.S. citizens caught by the Border Patrol, based on court documents and press releases.

Hidden in livestock feed
Robert Lee Cloyd, 40, of Dublin, Texas, was hauling livestock feed silage that concealed nearly 5,300 pounds of marijuana when he pulled up to a Border Patrol checkpoint near Hebbronville, Texas, in September 2011. When asked if he knew the weight or had a shipping receipt, he couldn’t provide either. Agents searched the trailer and found 98 bundles of marijuana. Drug Enforcement Administration agents obtained a search warrant for his cellphone and found a text message he’d sent that read: “ok sorry I’m 40 miles from the check(point) and my stomach is turning.” Cloyd was sentenced in April 2012 to 70 months in federal prison.

Trailer with false floor
David Michael Kasperitis drove a gold Ford F-150 pickup into the Sarita, Texas, checkpoint pulling a flatbed trailer in March 2011 when a drug-sniffing dog detected something unusual. Agents found that the trailer had a false floor, concealing 23 bundles of marijuana weighing 275 pounds. Kasperitis later told investigators that he knew he was hauling marijuana, but he thought it was 5 to 7 pounds. He said he was going to be paid $500 to deliver to a convenience store north of the checkpoint, according to a criminal complaint. Kasperitis, 45, pleaded guilty in June 2011 and was sentenced to 37 months in prison.

Stashed cocaine
In January 2011, Alan Enrique Tirado, a U.S. citizen living in Sonora, Mexico, drove up to a Border Patrol checkpoint near Yuma, Ariz., in a tan 2000 Plymouth Neon. A drug-sniffing dog smelled something in the car, which was directed to a second inspection area. When asked where he was going, Tirado, 24, said he was going to see his girlfriend, Maria, but he couldn’t remember where she lived, how old she was or her last name, according to a criminal complaint. An X-ray revealed 25 pounds of cocaine stashed above the rear tires. Tirado later told investigators that he was to be paid $2,000 to drive drugs to Phoenix.

Marijuana in the camper
In January 2011, Mark J. Lopez, 48, and a passenger approached the Sierra Blanca checkpoint in Texas driving a black 2003 Chevrolet Silverado with an Oregon license plate and a camper shell. When asked if he had any illegal contraband, Lopez told a Border Patrol agent he had 2 pounds of marijuana in the camper section. During a search, agents found 28 pounds of marijuana under the bed inside the camper, according to a criminal complaint. Lopez pleaded guilty in April 2011 and was sentenced in August 2011 to two years in prison.

Liquid methamphetamine
In early August 2012, Oscar Flores Fonseca, 37, drove a 2005 Chevrolet TrailBlazer to the I-5 Border Patrol checkpoint in San Clemente, Calif. Agents became suspicious as he acted nervous and searched the SUV. They found a 5-gallon plastic water jug with a greenish liquid that turned out to be liquid methamphetamine weighing 47.62 pounds and valued at $952,400, according to DEA officials and a Border Patrol press release.

Rehearsed responses
In July 2011, Border Patrol agents stationed at the Pine Valley I-8 checkpoint, about 40 miles east of San Diego, thought it strange when Osman Mohammad Rahimi, 21, and a girl answered questions for one another that suggested they had rehearsed their responses. Aided by a drug-sniffing dog, agents searched Rahimi’s gray Volkswagen Jetta and found more than 155 pounds of marijuana in the trunk. Rahimi pleaded guilty in September 2011 and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison.

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