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07/07/2011

Check the trunk before crossing border

Even honest people face risks crossing the border from Mexico into El Paso, Texas.

If you don’t believe it, read here and here: Dopers are stashing marijuana in the trunks of autos of unwitting people who regularly cross from Ciudad Juarez into El Paso, an FBI agent says in a sworn affidavit.

A number of Mexicans cross every day. They are students at the University of Texas in El Paso or professionals. Generally, they use the SENTRI express lane, the dedicated express lane for commuters.

Turns out, marijuana dealers have spotters looking for cars that cross every day on a predictable schedule through that lane. 

Here’s what one of them said about Ana Isela Martinez Amaya, 35, a teacher from the private La Fe Preparatory School in El Paso. Martinez is now in jail on marijuana smuggling charges. 

"We have seen that girl (Martinez Amaya) for about a year because she's like a clock, boss," alleged smuggler Carlos Gomez said in a recorded telephone call captured by the FBI. "At 5:00 -- she was there. Boom-boom-boom! Always."

Turns out that Gomez and his smuggling ring would identify drivers and vehicles that cross regularly. Then the smugglers would secretly obtain the car's vehicle identification number, or VIN, and get a Texas locksmith to make spare keys for that car.

According to the El Paso Times: “The keys would be used at night by smugglers to unlock the car, put drugs in it and lock it. The next morning, the drivers would get in their cars and drive to El Paso -- without ever knowing that drugs had been placed in the vehicles overnight.”

Martinez Amaya, a fourth grade teacher, is locked up in a Ciudad Juarez prison, where she is teaching illiterate fellow prisoners to read. She and her family says the 110 pounds of marijuana found in two suitcases in her trunk were planted. Apparently, the FBI has proof that that is the case.

"I'm not a drug dealer. I have been an honest person all my life. I just want authorities to know it's absolutely unfair to have me here because I'm not guilty," Martinez Amaya said in May.

Amaya has a hearing before a Mexican judge on Friday.

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sean hanny

please end the sily drug war...it should have neverr started, but it represented bug biz for Tricky Dick and subsequent less than forthright leasders...legalize everything and tax, monitor, educate...help end most of the bloodshed, make a dent in the narco/government cartels, end humiliation for the simple folk...

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Tim

This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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