The San Diego Union-Tribune reported new facts about a $1.25 million fentanyl seizure that happened at the Pine Valley checkpoint located on Interstate 8 in California. On September 5, 2018, nearly 52 pounds of powdered fentanyl and three pounds of fentanyl pills were found in a secret floor compartment of a 2008 Mini Cooper. Border Patrol arrested both occupants of the car, driver Jose Armando Hernandez Velazquez and passenger Sandra Cristina Osuna-Nunez. Records show that the car “had crossed into the U.S. from Mexico through the Calexico Port of Entry about two hours prior,” reports the San Diego Union-Tribune.
According to the complaint, a canine unit in the primary inspection area alerted agents that illegal narcotics might have been hidden in the vehicle. An inspection of the bolts that held the driver’s seat to the floor revealed an attempt to hide marks left by tools. When an agent tapped on the underside of the vehicle with his hand placed on the floor on the inside, the agent was not able to feel the tap, something the agents recognized as a sign of a hidden compartment. Agents removed 21 brick packages of powdered fentanyl and two packages full of fentanyl pills. Roughly 30 minutes later, agents used a TruNarc to test one of the packages of powder, and it came back positive for fentanyl.
In an interview with U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents, Hernandez admitted to being a paid transporter. On six or seven occasions, he was paid $2,500 to drive “what he imagined to be an illegal substance…” Hernandez received instructions to park and shop at specified malls. While he was away, someone unknown to him would take the vehicle and offload the contraband. Both Hernandez and Osuna-Nunez were charged in federal court with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl.