CBP Officers in El Paso Find Marijuana in Chess Board while Officers at Presidio Arrest Man with Cocaine in Engine

El Paso, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel working at the El Paso and Presidio ports of entry encountered two unusual drug concealment methods Tuesday. CBP officers found drugs hidden in a chess board and an engine manifold.

click for hi-res
A CBP officer at the El Paso port of entry begins removing marijuana-filled bundles that were hidden in a chess board.
A CBP officer at the El Paso port of entry begins removing marijuana-filled bundles that were hidden in a chess board.

The chess board marijuana seizure was made at the Paso Del Norte international crossing in El Paso just before noon Tuesday when a 2003 Dodge Stratus entered the port from Mexico. CBP drug sniffing dog “Lady” alerted to the trunk of the car at the primary inspection station. CBP officers examined the vehicle and located a chess board in the trunk. The game was X-rayed which showed bundles contained within the board. CBP officers opened the board, revealing 18 marijuana-filled bundles weighing 18.6 pounds. The driver of the car, a 32-year-old Juarez man, was turned over to the El Paso Police Department for prosecution.

“Drug smuggling is not a game, despite the appearance of this failed effort,” said William Molaski, CBP El Paso port director. “CBP officers remain vigilant knowing that even the most innocent looking item could pose risk.”

CBP officers working at the Presidio port of entry made a 9.6 pound cocaine seizure late Tuesday night after a 2001 Dodge 1500 occupied by a family of six entered from Mexico. CBP officers initiated a search of the vehicle and located a compartment in the manifold of the vehicle. CBP officers X-rayed the vehicle and spotted an anomaly in the appearance of the engine where the non-factory compartment had been spotted. CBP officers opened the compartment and removed five cocaine filled bundles.

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A CBP officer at the Presidio port of entry removes cocaine-filled bundles from the manifold of a truck that entered the port from Mexico March 2.
A CBP officer at the Presidio port of entry removes cocaine-filled bundles from the manifold of a truck that entered the port from Mexico March 2.

“Smugglers went to great lengths to conceal this drug load within the engine of this vehicle,” said John Prewit, CBP Presidio port director. “The smuggler was also traveling with family members, which is something that we are seeing more and more in the drug smuggling community.”

CBP officers arrested the driver of the vehicle, 30-year-old Gerhard Knelson of Walsingham, Ontario, Canada. He was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents to face federal prosecution. His wife and four children were released and allowed to continue their journey into the United States.

While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

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