U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers Seize Close to 1.3 Million in Cocaine with Help from K-9

Pharr/Hidalgo, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Pharr/Reynosa International Bridge seized close to 42 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of close to $1.3 million.

On Tuesday at 11:53 a.m., “Bora”, a narcotic detector dog, alerted officers to the presence of narcotic odors emanating from a 1999 Chevy Venture van as it arrived at the Pharr/Reynosa International Bridge. At the time of the Venture’s arrival, “Bora” and its handler were performing pre-primary enforcement operations. After a primary inspection, the Chevy van and driver were referred to secondary for an intensive examination.

In secondary, officers noted discrepancies to the vehicle’s undercarriage. The van was then referred for a non-intrusive image scan. X-ray images revealed anomalies within the van’s rear cargo floor area. While conducting an intensive examination of the suspected area, officers found a secret compartment which concealed 17 cocaine packages. The driver identified as Gonzalo Torres Martha, a Mexican citizen, age 21 from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico was arrested on federal drug charges.

After his arrest, Torres Martha was transferred to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents who continue to investigate this failed smuggling attempt. Pending appearance before a U.S. Magistrate, Torres Martha remains incarcerated. CBP officers seized the cocaine and the Chevy Venture van.

Michael R. DeBruhl, CBP acting port director, Hidalgo/Pharr said, “This is one of several drug loads where K-9 Bora was instrumental in alerting officers to drug odors, all of which resulted in drug seizures.” DeBruhl further said, “I commend this K-9 unit for their work in protecting our nation’s borders.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Alabaster construction company owner charged with employing illegal aliens

BIRMINGHAM, Al. – A 38-year-old woman was indicted here yesterday on charges for harboring and employing illegal aliens following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Alabaster Police Department investigation.

Beverly Linan, who owned and operated Rodriguez Construction Company with offices in Alabaster, Alabama, was charged in a three-count indictment.  Rodriguez Construction performed masonry work throughout the Jefferson and Shelby County areas.

Count one charged Linan with harboring illegal aliens and counts two and three charged him with knowingly employing illegal aliens and a forfeiture to recover profits made from employing illegal aliens respectively.  If convicted of all counts, Linan faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of $250,000.

“The knowing employment of illegal aliens not only takes jobs from hardworking Americans, it is against the law.  All of the illegal aliens working for Rodriguez Construction were arrested by ICE and are in the process of being deported to their home countries,” stated U.S. Attorney Alice H. Martin.

“Employment is a primary driving force behind illegal immigration,” said Michael Holt, special agent in charge for the ICE Office of Investigations in New Orleans. “No employer, regardless of industry, size, type or location is immune from complying with the nation’s laws. ICE and our law enforcement partners will continue to bring all of our authorities to bear in this fight using criminal charges, asset seizures, administrative arrests and deportations.”

Assistant United States Attorney Michael W. Whisonant is prosecuting this case on behalf of the United States.

Linan is presumed innocent until and when found guilty.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement