Tuesday, February 23, 2010
TIJUANA, Mexico The Mexican Army has made one of the largest ever marijuana seizures in Baja California.
Soldiers at a highway checkpoint near San Felipe, Mexico found more than 35,000 pounds of the drug packed inside a tractor trailer. The large bricks of marijuana were wrapped in brown packing tape. The words "Vaca" (Cow), "Flor" (Flower) and "Virus" (Virus) were written in black marker on the bundles.
The Mexican Army General in charge of Tijuana, Alfonso Duarte, said it wasn't clear if the words are the street names of the marijuana or the nicknames of the people meant to receive the drugs.
Duarte calculates the street value would have been about $18 million.
He said it's possible the truck was headed to Ensenada to smuggle the marijuana to the U.S. by sea. "The Mexican Navy would have searched the truck at the Ensenada port. Another possibility is that the driver was headed toward Ensenada to circumvent another highway checkpoint."
Duarte said in addition to the historic haul of marijuana, the truck driver, 34-year-old Mario Lopez Castro, also carried boxes of cookies. Duarte said the driver had been paid about $3,800 to transport the load.
This seizure brings the total amount of marijuana the army has seized in Baja California in a month to more than 30 tons. Two weeks ago, the army found 12 tons of marijuana in the back of another truck. Duarte said the two recent cases share many similarities.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials said marijuana is the major cash crop for Mexican drug cartels.