U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers intercepted three SENTRI members in one day with narcotics hidden in their vehicles at the San Ysidro port of entry, seizing more than 72 pounds of methamphetamine and fentanyl.
“The backbone of our SENTRI program relies on the persons enrolled being Trusted Travelers, so that we can speed inspections in those dedicated lanes,” said Mariza Marin, CBP Port Director at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. “However, we know that those individuals are low risk, and not no risk, so while we speed these travelers along, they are not exempt from inspection. Seizures like these are one of the reasons that our SENTRI members are always inspected by our officers when entering the United States.”
On July 21, at about 6:10 a.m., officers stopped a trusted traveler using the SENTRI lanes with 51.94 pounds of methamphetamine concealed in their vehicle’s spare tire well. Not even an hour later, officers discovered another individual in the dedicated SENTRI lane with 7.63 pounds of fentanyl powder in the undercarriage of his car. Shortly after, at about 7:35 a.m., a third seizure was detected when a SENTRI holder was found with 30.16 pounds of methamphetamine concealed in the rear bumper and undercarriage of their vehicle traveling via the SENTRI lanes.
The Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) is a program along the southwest land border that allows expedited screening for pre-approved, low risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Participants of the program may utilize dedicated “express lanes” to enter the United States at land ports of entry across the nation. All SENTRI applicants undergo a rigorous background check, provide biometric information including fingerprints, and an in-person interview as part of the approval process.
CBP Trusted Traveler Programs have exceeded over 10 million total members and are expected to receive 3.5 million applications in fiscal year 2022. This would mark the most applicants ever in a one-year period since the creation of the program.
The program’s participants enjoy the benefits of expedited travel and decreased wait times at U.S./Mexico border crossings. Although the pre-approved participants are trusted, these low-risk commuters are still subject to search and verification that they are following the law and Trusted Traveler program rules.
“CBP would like to remind the public that the ability to use these designated SENTRI lanes is a privilege. Violations of any kind will lead to expulsion from the program,” said Anne Maricich, CBP Acting Director of Field Operations in San Diego. “SENTRI lanes have always been a win-win for us, allowing for lower wait times for frequent border crossers, and more information so our officers can sort traffic and focus more on higher risk inspections. For the program to be effective though, our officers continue to stay vigilant to spot anyone who might attempt illegal activity, even if they were considered lower risk.”
The three seizures totaled 89.73 pounds of fentanyl and methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $272,180.
The narcotics and vehicles were seized by CBP officers. The drivers were turned over to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations.