4,292 pounds of marijuana seized from rail cars

What began at Eagle Pass last month as a drug seizure, made by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, has resulted in several arrests and a seizure of a bank account in New Jersey on March 05, 2003, by special agents assigned to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE).

On February 8, 2003, Customs and Border Protection officers searched a rail car that entered the U.S. from Mexico at Eagle Pass, Texas. Gamma ray scanning of the boxcar revealed what appeared to be secret compartments at both ends of the rail car. CBP Inspectors and BICE Special Agents inspected the rail car and discovered 2,551 pounds of marijuana concealed inside the false compartments built into the rail car.

Further investigation by the Special Agents identified another rail car, which had crossed into the United States in transit to New Jersey. Special Agents in Newark, New Jersey, intercepted the rail car headed their way and upon inspection discovered 1,741 pounds of marijuana concealed in secret compartments.

Special Agents in Newark arrested three men allegedly associated with the conspiracy of smuggling the marijuana. The men are identified as Fernando Tapia-Albet, age 53, who has lived illegally in the United States for 22 years in Manhattan, NY; Adolfo Lopez-Nunez, age 35, a legal resident of the U.S. who claimed to be a farmer from California, was arrested in Secaucus, New Jersey; and Antonio Lopez-Abrijan, age 46, an illegal alien who claimed to be a laborer.

Special Agents continued their investigation and seized $20,800 comprising a bank account in New Jersey.

"The seizures and arrests clearly demonstrate the excellent inter-regional enforcement efforts and the value of technology available to law enforcement. It also reflects the seamless coordination between inspectors and special agents," said John Varrone, Special Agent in Charge in Newark, NJ for the BICE.

The estimated U.S. street value of the marijuana could be up to $4.2 million.

Source: ICE

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