Border smugglers move drugs with 'shoppers'

Print
Email
|

by ANGELA KOCHERGA / WFAA

khou.com

Posted on December 12, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 12 at 11:15 AM

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Police along the border say some of ads that claim you can get paid to shop are actually part of a drug smuggling scheme. They say the victims have no idea — until they get caught.

In the border city of Juarez, job-seekers who search help wanted ads in local newspapers see several that require a visa or border crossing card. People who apply hear an enticing offer.

"Basically, the selling point is, you're going to get paid to shop," said Oscar Hagelsieb of Homeland Security investigations.

But authorities say its a scheme to use motorists who cross the border to smuggle drugs.

Here's how it works: Recruiters tell people the job is to drive to the U.S. side to comparison shop and find the best bargains. Its all part of the plan, according to Hagelsieb.

"It's what we like to call Narco 101. You build a history of crossing. That way, it's less suspicious when you do," he said.

The "shoppers" are even provided with a vehicle. They don't know it's equipped with a hidden compartment used to smuggle drugs — until they get caught at an international border crossing and face criminal charges.

Investigators are seeing a spike in such cases in El Paso, where 25 have been reported this past fiscal year. The authorities expect more now that the holiday shopping season is here.

E-mail akocherga@belo.com

Print
Email
|