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Soar on U.S.-Mexico Border
Thu Sep 18
By Deborah Tedford
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Marijuana seizures along the
U.S.-Mexico border are up dramatically mainly because of
heightened security after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, border
officials said on Thursday.
Between October 2002 and the end of August, agents and
inspectors seized about 1.3 million pounds of marijuana -- the
largest amount seized on the border in at least five years,
according to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Customs and
Border Protection obtained by Reuters.
"More than anything else it would be the intensified
inspection process put into place after September 11 that is
responsible for this," said Roger Maier, bureau spokesman.
"Terrorism is the focus, but our greatest dividend on the
border has been the increased drug seizures."
The amount of marijuana seized at the border so far in fiscal
2003, which began last October and ends Sept. 30, already
rivals the total seized throughout the United States in fiscal
Last fiscal year agents seized 1.4 million pounds of marijuana
Seizures of cocaine and heroin have also been brisk.
This month Customs inspectors in El Paso, Texas, found 87
pounds of heroin in a false compartment in the bed of a 2003
Nissan Frontier pickup, said Maier.
The $6 million find was a record for El Paso agents and was
more heroin than they had seized in the previous four years,
Inspectors along the 2,000-mile border use state-of-the-art
technology to find illegal drugs. Fixed and mobile X-ray and
gamma ray systems scan commercial and passenger vehicles,
fiber optic scopes peer into gas tanks and density meters can
determine if a space is hollow or solid.
Electric tape measures also measure the inside and outside
lengths of trailers to detect false panels.