A Mexican citizen has been sentenced to nine years in prison following a record-breaking drug seizure of more than 17,500 pounds of methamphetamine and another 388 pounds of fentanyl from a truck trying to enter the United States, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Carlos Martin Quintana-Arias admitted to driving the tractor-trailer on Nov. 18, 2021, through the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego, California, the Justice Department said.
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He pleaded guilty earlier this year to the importation of a controlled substance. Both amounts mark the largest seizures of either drug in the U.S. in 2021 and 2022 so far, prosecutors said.
“This was a brazen attempt to smuggle a record amount of deadly narcotics into our country, and as this sentencing reflects, those persons looking to make a quick profit from narcotics smuggling will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted,” said Chad Plantz, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego.
A federal indictment said Quintana-Arias applied for entry into the U.S. with a manifest that identified the contents of his 1996 Stoug trailer as automotive body parts.
However, an X-ray machine detected anomalies in the truck’s trailer. A drug detection dog then alerted U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers to the vehicle.
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Inside, authorities found more than 6,000 packages of methamphetamine and nearly 200 packages of fentanyl, authorities said.