U.S. Attorney: Suspects Allegedly Use Students as Drug Mules

Two men from West Texas face federal drug trafficking charges following an Indictment from a Grand Jury. On Nov. 19, 2012, about 500 pounds of marijuana were discovered in a school bus. Earlier that day, the bus took students from Van Horn, Texas to Presidio, just across from Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico.

The students from Van Horn were in Presidio for a basketball game. On the way back, the bus driver stopped in Marfa at a convenience store. The bus driver saw duffle bags that could not be accounted for. The driver alerted US Border Patrol agents who were coincidentally at the store. The agents took possession of the contraband and from there, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Multi Agency Task Force launched an investigation.

Two suspects are now in custody awaiting trial.

DEA El Paso Division Special Agent in Charge Joseph Arabit said, “This case involves a particularly brazen act of using a school bus and students as a cover for a drug load. These arrests should send a message that law enforcement agencies will work together to ensure that persons involved in these types of activity are brought to justice, especially when the safety of our children is concerned.”

DEA photo of the duffle bags discovered in the November 2012 drug smuggling attempt.

DEA photo of the duffle bags discovered in the November 2012 drug smuggling attempt.

Lorne Matalon spoke with Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez and then hosted John Smietana, Chief of the US Border Patrol’s Big Bend Sector. Dominguez says anyone who’d use children as unwitting drugs mules is cowardly, while Chief Smietana described how the case unfolded and the way law enforcement sees this case; no involvement is alleged against any staff member or student of either school district. Dominguez and Smietana say the allegation is disturbing; that alleged drug traffickers would use students as unwitting mules.

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