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648 pounds of marijuana found in ‘unusual concealment’ at U.S. border, officers say

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EL PASO, Texas — The federal government seized several pounds of marijuana last weekend after discovering the product hidden in giant spools of sheet metal, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office.

Investigators said 648 pounds of the drug was being imported from Mexico when field operations officers discovered it Oct. 11 at a port in El Paso. The officers report having removed 28 bundles of marijuana from specially crafted compartments inside the spool.  The find was made during one of eight seizures that resulted in a total confiscation of 1,402 pounds of marijuana, 18.5 pounds of methamphetamine and 12 pounds of cocaine.

“This is an unusual concealment method that was unraveled by the good work of vigilant CBP officers,” CBP El Paso Port Director Severiano Solis. “Smugglers will sometimes try to conceal their drugs in legitimate cargo in an attempt to transport contraband across the border.”

The seizure was executed just after 5 p.m. when a 1999 Freightliner towing a 1992 Wabash trailer entered the Ysleta cargo facility from Mexico, officials said. Officers said the shipment of rolled sheet metal for an intensive exam, during which officers X-rayed the shipment and found anomalies in the commodity.

The team brought in a CBP drug sniffing dog that alerted officers to the presence of drugs in the spools, officers said.

While the department made nine NCIC arrests and stopped seven people who were transporting prohibited agricultural items during the same weekend, no one has been arrested in connection to marijuana hidden in the giant spools, officials said.