Dog sniffs out nearly 6 tons of meth hidden in squash shipment

OTAY MESA, Calif. — A narcotic canine helped authorities discover nearly 6 tons of methamphetamine hidden in a squash shipment at the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection estimated that the drugs were worth more than $18 million.

They were found Monday morning after officers scanned a tractor-trailer carrying a shipment manifested for squash. During the scan, officers noted irregularities and called for help from a canine team.

The team that responded, made up of a human and a narcotics detection canine, alerted authorities to the presence of narcotics.

Officers found nearly 1,420 packages hidden in the squash, according to officials. The packages contained almost 11,470 pounds, or 5.7 tons, of meth.

Authorities seized the meth, the commercial tractor and the trailer.

The driver of the vehicle, a 44-year-old man who has a valid border crossing card, was turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigation. It was not immediately clear how he was connected to the narcotics, where they came from or where they were heading.

The seizures were part of an effort, dubbed Operation Apollo, aimed at stopping the smuggling of fentanyl into the U.S. It began in October 2023 in Southern California and has since been expanded to Arizona, connecting local CBP officers with federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners to boost resources and increase collaboration, according to the agency.

“These results serve as an outstanding display of effectiveness in thwarting the illegal importation of narcotics,” Otay Mesa Area Port Director Rosa E. Hernandez said Wednesday in a statement.

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